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First Edition, 191 1 
Second Edition, 19 14 

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niv. of 


J. I. T. 


When through some years of happy labour one has written 
a book after his own plan, and has set forth in it the things 
which were to him interesting and valuable, there is no 
keener pleasure than to have others likewise find them so. 
The reception of The Mediaeval Mind has been very gratify- 
ing. My thanks are due to those reviewers who have praised 
it above its deserts, and to those whose salutary criticisms 
have been availed of for the present edition. 

The book has been carefully reconsidered throughout, and 
some statements have been changed or amplified. A new 
chapter has been introduced upon the Towns and Guilds 
and the Crusades, regarded as phases of mediaeval growth. 
My translations from the Latin have been examined and the 
slips corrected. Although occasionally abridged, I have 
tried to keep them literal, and free from thoughts not in 

the original. 

Henry Osborn Taylor. 

New YORK, January 19 14. 



The Middle Ages ! They seem so far away ; intellectu- 
ally so preposterous, spiritually so strange. Bits of them 
may touch our sympathy, please our taste ; their window- 
glass, their sculpture, certain of their stories, their romances, 
— as if those straitened ages really were the time of 
romance, which they were not, God knows, in the sense 
commonly taken. Yet perhaps they were such intellectu- 
ally, or at least spiritually. Their terra — not for them 
incognita, though full of mystery and pall and vaguer 
glory — was not the earth. It was the land of metaphysical 
construction and the land of spiritual passion. There lay 
their romance, thither pointed their veriest thinking, thither 
drew their utter yearning. 

Is it possible that the Middle Ages should speak to 
us, as through a common humanity ? Their mask is by 
no means dumb : in full voice speaks the noble beauty 
of Chartres Cathedral. Such mediaeval product, we hope, 
is of the universal human, and therefore of us as well as 
of the bygone craftsmen. Why it moves us, we are not 
certain, being ignorant, perhaps, of the building's formative 
and earnestly intended meaning. Do we care to get at 
that ? There is no way save by entering the mediaeval 
depths, penetrating to the rationale of the Middle Ages, 
learning the doctrinale, or emotionale, of the modes in which 
they still present themselves so persuasively. 

But if the pageant of those centuries charm our eyes 

with forms that seem so full of meaning, why should we 



stand indifferent to the harnessed processes of mediaeval 
thinking and the passion surging through the thought ? 
Thought marshalled the great mediaeval procession, which 
moved to measures of pulsating and glorifying emotion. 
Shall we not press on, through knowledge, and search 
out its efficient causes, so that we too may feel the reality 
of the mediaeval argumentation, with the possible validity 
of mediaeval conclusions, and tread those channels of 
mediaeval passion which were cleared and deepened by 
the thought ? This would be to reach human comradeship 
with mediaeval motives, no longer found too remote for 
our sympathy, or too fantastic or shallow for our under- 

But where is the path through these footless mazes ? 
Obviously, if we would attain, perhaps, no unified, but at 
least an orderly presentation of mediaeval intellectual and 
emotional development, we must avoid entanglements with 
manifold and not always relevant detail. We must not 
drift too far with studies of daily life, habits and dress, 
wars and raiding, crimes and brutalities, or trade and craft 
and agriculture. Nor will it be wise to keep too close to 
theology or within the lines of growth of secular and 
ecclesiastical institutions. Let the student be mindful of 
his purpose (which is my purpose in this book) to follow 
through the Middle Ages the development of intellectual 
energy and the growth of emotion. Holding this end in 
view, we, students all, shall not stray from our quest after 
those human qualities which impelled the strivings of 
mediaeval men and women, informed their imaginations, 
and moved them to love and tears and pity. 

The plan and method by which I have endeavoured to 
realize this purpose in my book may be gathered from the 
Table of Contents and the First Chapter, which is intro- 
ductory. These will obviate the need of sketching here 
the order of presentation of the successive or co-ordinated 
topics forming the subject-matter. 


Yet one word as to the standpoint from which the 
book is written. An historian explains by the standards 
and limitations of the times to which his people belong. 
He judges — for he must also judge — by his own best 
wisdom. His sympathy cannot but reach out to those 
who lived up to their best understanding of life ; for who 
can do more ? Yet woe unto that man whose mind is 
closed, whose standards are material and base. 

Not only shalt thou do what seems well to thee ; but 
thou shalt do right, with wisdom. History has laid some 
thousands of years of emphasis on this. Thou shalt not 
only be sincere, but thou shalt be righteous, and not 
iniquitous ; beneficent, and not malignant ; loving and 
lovable, and not hating and hateful. Thou shalt be a 
promoter of light, and not of darkness ; an illuminator, 
and not an obscurer. Not only shalt thou seek to choose 
aright, but at thy peril thou shalt so choose. " Unto him 
that hath shall be given " — nothing is said about sincerity. 
The fool, the maniac, is sincere ; the mainsprings of the 
good which we may commend lie deeper. 

So, and at his peril likewise, must the historian judge. 
He cannot state the facts and sit aloof, impartial between 
good and ill, between success and failure, progress and 
retrogression, the soul's health and loveliness, and spiritual 
foulness and disease. He must love and hate, and at his 
peril love aright and hate what is truly hateful. And 
although his sympathies quiver to understand and feel 
as the man and woman before him, his sympathies must 
be controlled by wisdom. 

Whatever may be one's beliefs, a realization of the 
power and import of the Christian Faith is needed for an 
understanding of the thoughts and feelings moving the 
men and women of the Middle Ages, and for a just apprecia- 
tion of their aspirations and ideals. Perhaps the fittest 
standard to apply to them is one's own broadest conception 
of the Christian scheme, the Christian scheme whole and 


entire with the full life of Christ's Gospel. Every age has 
offered an interpretation of that Gospel and an attempt 
at fulfilment. Neither the interpretation of the Church 
Fathers, nor that of the Middle Ages satisfies us now. And 
by our further understanding of life and the Gospel of life, 
we criticize the judgment of mediaeval men. We have to 
sympathize with their best, and understand their lives out 
of their lives and the conditions in which they were passed. 
But we must judge according to our own best wisdom, and 
out of ourselves offer our comment and contribution. 

Henry Osborn Taylor. 

New York, January 191 1. 





Genesis of the Mediaeval Genius . 



The Latinizing of the West . 



Greek Philosophy as the Antecedent of the Patristic 
Apprehension of Fact 



Intellectual Interests of the Latin Fathers 



Latin Transmitters of Antique and Patristic Thought 88 


The Barbaric Disruption of the Empire 


1 10 




The Celtic Strain in Gaul and Ireland . . .124 

Teuton Qualities: Anglo-Saxon, German, Norse. . 138 


The Bringing of Christianity and Antique Know- 
ledge to the Northern Peoples . . . .169 

I. Irish Activities ; Columbanus of Luxeuil. 
II. Conversion of the English ; the learning of Bede and 

III. Gaul and Germany; from Clovis to St. Winifried- 



Carolingian Period : the First Stage in the Appro- 
priation of the Patristic and Antique . . . 207 


Mental Aspects of the Eleventh Century : Italy . 239 

I. From Charlemagne to Hildebrand. 

II. The Human Situation. 

III. The Italian Continuity of Antique Culture. 

IV. Italy's Intellectual Piety: Peter Damiani and St. 





Mental Aspects of the Eleventh Century: France . 282 
I. Gerbert. 
II. Odilo of Cluny. 
III.' Fulbert and the School of Chartres ; Trivium and 

IV. Berengar of Tours, Roscellin and the coming time. 


Mental Aspects of the Eleventh Century : Germany ; 

England . 308 

I. German Appropriation of Christianity and Antique 
II. Othloh's Spiritual Conflict. 
III. England; Closing Comparisons. 


Phases of Mediaeval Growth 331 

I. The Crusades. 
II. Towns and Guilds. 


The Growth of Mediaeval Emotion . . . .346 
I. The Patristic Chart of Passion. 
II. Emotionalizing of Latin Christianity. 






The Reforms of Monasticism 369 

Mediaeval Extremes ; Benedict of Aniane ; Cluny; Citeaux's 
Charta Charitatis ; the vita contemplativa accepts the 
vita activa. 


The Hermit Temper 384 

Peter Damiani ; Romuald ; Dominicus Loricatus ; Bruno 
and Guigo, Carthusians. 


The Quality of Love in St. Bernard .... 408 

St. Francis of Assisi • . .431 


Mystic Visions of Ascetic Women 458 

Elizabeth of Schonau ; Hildegard of Bingen ; Mary of 
Ognies ; Liutgard of Tongern ; Mechthild of Magdeburg. 



The Spotted Actuality 487 

The Testimony of Invective and Satire; Archbishop Rigaud's 
Register ; Engelbert of Cologne ; Popular Credences. 



The World of Salimbene 




Feudalism and Knighthood 

Feudal and Christian Origin of Knightly Virtue ; the Order 
of the Temple ; Godfrey of Bouillon ; St. Louis ; 
Froissart's Chronicles. 



Romantic Chivalry and Courtly Love . 
From Roland to Tristan and Lancelot. 







The antique civilization of the Roman Empire was followed 
by that depression of decadence and barbarization which 
separates antiquity from the Middle Ages. Out of the 
confusion of this intervening period emerged the mediaeval 
peoples of western Europe. These, as knowledge increased 
with them, began to manifest spiritual traits having no clear 
counterpart in the ancient sources from which they drew the 
matter of their thought and contemplation. 

The past which furnished the content of mediaeval 
thought was twofold, very dual, even carrying within itself 
the elements of irreconcilable conflict ; and yet with its 
opposing fronts seemingly confederated, if not made into 
one. Sprung from such warring elements, fashioned by all 
the interests of life in heaven as well as life on earth, the 
traits and faculties of mediaeval humanity were to make a 
motley company. Clearly each mediaeval century will offer 
a manifold of disparity and irrelationship, not to be brought 
to unity, any more than can be followed to the breast of one 
mighty wind-god the blasts that blow from every quarter 
over the waters of our own time. Nevertheless, each 
mediaeval century, and if one will, the entire Middle Ages, 
seen in distant perspective, presents a consistent picture, in 
which dominant mediaeval traits, retaining their due pre- 
eminence, may afford a just conception of the mediaeval 
genius. 1 

The present work is not occupied with the brutalities of mediaeval life, nor 
with all the lower grades of ignorance and superstition abounding in the Middle 
Ages, and still existing, in a less degree, through parts of Spain and southern 


While complex in themselves, and intricate in their 
interaction, the elements that were to form the spiritual 
constituency of the Middle Ages of western Europe may 
be disentangled and regarded separately. There was first 
the element of the antique, which was descended from the 
thought and knowledge current in Italy and the western 
provinces of the Roman Empire, where Latin was the 
common language. In those Roman times, this fund of 
thought and knowledge consisted of Greek metaphysics, 
physical science, and ethics, and also of much that the Latins 
had themselves evolved, especially in private law and political 

Rome had borrowed her philosophy and the motives 
of her literature and art from Greece. At first, quite 
provincial] y, she drew as from a foreign source ; but as 
the great Republic extended her boundaries around the 
Mediterranean world, and brought under her levelling power 
the Hellenized or still Asiatic East, and Africa and Spain 
and Gaul as well, Greek thought, as the informing principle 
of knowledge, was diffused throughout all this Roman 
Empire, and ceased to be alien to the Latin West. Yet the 
peoples of the West did not become Hellenized, or change 
their speech for Greek. Latin held its own against its 
subtle rival, and continued to advance with power through 
the lands which had spoken other tongues before their 
Roman subjugation ; and it was the soul of Latium, and 
not the soul of Hellas, that imbued these lands with a 
new homogeneity of civic order. The Greek knowledge 
which spread through them was transmuted in Latin speech 
or writings ; while the great Latin authors who modelled 
Latin literature upon the Greek, and did so much to fill the 
Latin mind with Greek thoughts, recast their borrowings in 
their own style as well as language, and re-tempered the 

France and Italy. Consequently I have not such things very actively in mind 
when speaking of the mediaeval genius. That phrase, and the like, in this book, 
will signify the more informed and constructive spirit of the mediaeval time. 



matter to accord with the Roman natures of themselves and 
their countrymen. Hence only through Latin paraphrase, 
and through transformation in the Latin classics, Greek 
thought reached the mediaeval peoples ; until the thirteenth 
century, when a better acquaintance was opened with the 
Greek sources, yet still through closer Latin translations, as 
will be seen. 

Thus it was with the pagan antique as an element of 
mediaeval culture. Nor was it very different with the 
patristic, or Christian antique, element. ' For in the fourth 
and fifth centuries, tHe~infmence of pagan Greece on pagan 
Rome tended to repeat itself in the relations between the 
Greek and the Latin Fathers of the Church. The dogmatic 
formulation of Christianity was mainly the work of the 
former. Tertullian, a Latin, had indeed been an early and 
important contributor to the process. But, in general, the 
Latin Fathers were to approve and confirm the work of 
Athanasius and of his coadjutors and predecessors, who 
thought and wrote in Greek. Nevertheless, Augustine and 
other Latin Fathers ordered and made anew what had 
come from their elder brethren in the East, Latinizing it in 
form and temper as well as language. At the same time, 
they supplemented it with matter drawn, from their own 
thinking. It was thus that patristic theology and the 
entire mass of Christianized knowledge and opinion came 
to the Middle Ages in a Latin medium. 

A third and vaguest factor in the evolution of the 
mediaeval genius consisted infjhe diverse and manifold 
capacities of the mediaeval peoplesTjItalians whose ancestors 
had been very part of the antique ; inhabitants of Spain and 
Gaul who were descended from once Latinized provincials ; 
and lastly that widespread Teuton folk, whose forbears had 
barbarized and broken the Roman Empire in those centuries 
when a decadent civilization could no longer make Romans 
of barbarians. Moreover, the way in which Christianity was 
brought to the Teuton peoples and accepted by them, and 
the manner of their introduction to the pagan culture, 
reduced at last to following in the Christian train, did not 
cease for centuries to react upon the course of mediaeval 



The distinguishing characteristics which make the 
Middle Ages a period in the history of western Europe were 
the result of the interaction of the elements of mediaeval 
development working together, and did not spring from the 
singular nature of any one of them. Accordingly, the proper 
beginning of the Middle Ages, so far as one may speak of a 
beginning, should lie in the time of the conjunction of these 
elements in a joint activity. That could not be before the 
barbaric disturbers of the Roman peace had settled down to 
life and progress under the action of Latin Christianity and 
the surviving antique culture. Nor may this beginning be 
placed before the time when Gregory the Great (d. 604) 
had refashioned Augustine, and much that was earlier, to 
the measure of the coming centuries ; nor before Boethius 
(d. 523), Cassiodorus (d. 575), and Isidore of Seville (d. 636), 
had prepared the antique pabulum for the mediaeval 
stomach. All these men were intermediaries or transmitters, 
and belong to the epoch of transition from the antique and 
the patristic to the properly inceptive time, when new 
learners were beginning, in typically mediaeval ways, to 
rehandle the patristic material and what remained of the 
antique. Contemporary with those intermediaries, or 
following hard upon them, were the great missionaries or 
converters, who laboured to introduce Christianity, with 
the antique thought incorporated in it and the squalid 
survival of antique education sheltered in its train, to 
Teuton peoples in Gaul, England, and Rhenish Germany. 
Among tliese was the truculent Irishman, St. Colum- 
banus (d. 615), founder of Luxeuil and Bobbio, whose 
disciple was St. Gall, and whose contemporary was St. 
Augustine of Canterbury, whom Gregory the Great sent 
to convert the Anglo-Saxons. A good century later, St. 
Winifried-Boniface is working to establish Christianity in 
Germany. 1 Thus it will not be easy to find a large and 
catholic beginning for the Middle Ages until the eighth 
century is reached, and we are come on what is called the 
Carolingian period. 

Let us approach a little nearer, and consider the situa- 
tion of western Europe with respect to antique culture and 

1 There will be much to say of all these men in later chapters. 


Latin Christianity, in the centuries following the disruption 
of the Roman Empire. The broadest distinction is to be 
drawn between Italy and the lands north of the Alps. Under 
the Empire, there was an Italian people. However diverse 
may have been its ancient stocks, this people had long 
since become Latin in language, culture, sentiment and 
tradition. They were the heirs of the Greek, and the 
creators of the Roman literature, art, philosophy, and law. 
They were never to become barbarians, although they 
suffered decadence. Like all great peoples, they had shown 
a power to assimilate foreigners, which was not lost, but 
only degraded and diminished, in the fourth and fifth 
centuries, when Teutonic slaves, immigrants, invaders, 
seemed to be barbarizing the Latin order quite as much as 
it was Latinizing them. In these and the following times 
the culture of Italy sank lamentably low. Yet there was 
no break of civilization, but only a deep decline and then 
a re-emergence, in the course of which the Latin civilization 
had become Italian. For a lowered form of classical educa- 
tion had survived, and the better classes continued to be 
educated people according to the degraded standard and 
lessened intellectual energies of those times. 1 

Undoubtedly, in its decline this Latin civilization of 
Italy could no longer raise barbarians to the level of the 
Augustan age. Yet it still was making them over into 
the likeness of its-own weakened children. The Visigoths 
broke into Italy, then, as we are told, passed into southern 
France ; otherconfused barbarians came and went, and then 
the Ostrogoths, with Theodoric at their head, an excellent 
but not very numerous folk. They stayed in Italy, and 
fought and died, or lived on, changing into indistinguishable 
Italians, save for flashes of yellow hair, appearing and re- 
appearing where the Goths had lived. And then the 
Lombards, crueller than the Goths, but better able to main- 
tain their energies effective. Their numbers also were not 
great, compared with the Italians. And thereafter, in spite 
of their fierceness and the tenacity of their Germanic customs, 
the succeeding Lombard generations became imbued with 
the culture of Italy. They became North Italians, gravi- 

1 Post, Chapter XI. 


tating to the towns of Lombardy, or perhaps, farther to the 
south, holding together in settlements of their own, or 
forming the nucleus of a hill-dwelling country nobility. 

The Italian stock remained predominant over all the 
incomers of northern blood. It certainly needed no intro- 
duction to what had largely been its own creation, the 
Latin civilization. With weakened hands, it still held to 
the education, the culture, of its own past ; it still read its 
ancient literature, and imitated it in miserable verse. The 
incoming barbarians had hastened the land's intellectual 
downfall. But all the plagues of inroad and pestilence and 
famine, which intermittently devastated Italy from the fifth 
to the tenth century, left some squalid continuity of educa- 
tion. And those barbarian stocks which stayed in that 
home of the classics, became imbued with whatever culture 
existed around them, and tended gradually to coalesce with 
the Italians. 

Evidently in its old home, where it merely had become 
decadent, this ancient culture would fill a role quite different 
from any specific influence which it might exert in a country 
where the Latin education was freshly introduced. In 
Italy, a general survival of Roman law and institution, 
custom and tradition, endured so far as these various ele- 
ments of the Italian civilization had not been lost or dis- 
possessed, or left high and dry above the receding tide of 
culture and intelligence. Christianity had been superim- 
posed upon paganism ; and the Christian faith held thoughts 
incompatible with antique views of life. Teutonic customs 
were brought in, and the Lombard codes were enacted, 
working some specific supersession of the Roman law. 
The tone, the sentiment, the mind of the Italian people had 
altered from the patterns presented by Cicero, or Virgil, or 
Horace, or Tacitus. Nevertheless, the antique remained as 
the soil from which things grew, or as the somewhat turgid 
atmosphere breathed by living beings. It was not merely 
a form of education or vehicle of edifying knowledge, nor 
solely a literary standard. The common modes of the 
antique were there as well, its daily habits, its urbanity and 
its dross. 

The relationship toward the antique held by the peoples 


of the Iberian peninsula and the lands which eventually 
were to make France, was not quite the same as that held 
by the Italians. Spain, save in intractable mountain regions, 
had become a domicile of Latin culture before its people 
were converted to Christianity. Then it became a strong- 
hold of early Catholicism. Latin and Catholic Spain 
absorbed its Visigothic invaders, who in a few generations 
had appropriated the antique culture, and had turned from 
Arianism to the orthodoxy of their new home. Under 
Visigothic rule, the Spanish church became exceptionally 
authoritative, and its Latin and Catholic learning flourished 
at the beginning of the seventh century. These conditions 
gave way before the Moorish conquest, which was most 
complete in the most thoroughly Romanized portions of 
the land. Yet the permanent Latinization of the territory 
where Christianity continued, is borne, witness to by the 
languages growing from the vulgar Latin dialects. The 
endurance of Latin culture is shown by the polished Latinity 
of Theodulphus, a Spanish Goth, who left his home at the 
invitation of Charlemagne, and died, the best Latin verse- 
maker of his time, as Bishop of Orleans in 821. Thus the 
education, culture, and languages of Spain were all from 
the antique. Yet the genius of the land was to be specific- 
ally Spanish rather than assimilated to any such deep-soiled 
paganism as underlay the ecclesiastical Christianization of 

As for France, in the southern part which had been 
Provincia, the antique endured in laws and institutions, in 
architecture and in ways of life, to a degree second only to 
its dynamic continuity in Italy. And this in spite of the 
crude masses of Teutondom which poured into Provincia 
to be leavened by its culture. In northern France there 
were more barbarian folk and a less universally diffused 
Latinity. The Merovingian period swept most of the last 
away, leaving a fair field to be sown afresh with the Latin 
education of the Carolingian revival. Yet the inherited dis- 
cipline of obedience to the Roman order was not obliterated 
from the Gallic stock, and the lasting Latinization of Gaul 
endured in the Romance tongues, which were also to be 
impressed upon all German invaders. Franks, Burgundians, 


or Alemanni, who came in contact with the provincials, 
began to be affected by their language, their religion, their 
ways of living, and by whatever survival of letters there 
was among them. The Romance dialects were to triumph, 
were to become French ; and in the earliest extant pieces 
of this vernacular poetry, the effect of Latin verse-forms 
appears. Yet Franks and Burgundians were not Latinized 
in spirit ; and, in truth, the Gauls before them had only 
become good imitation Latins. At all events, from these 
mixed and intermediate conditions, a people were to emerge 
who were not German, nor altogether Latin, in spite of 
their Romance speech. Latin culture was not quite as a 
foreign influence upon these Gallo-Roman, Teutonically re- 
inspirited, incipient, French. Nor were they born and bred 
to it, like the Italians. The antique was not to dominate 
the French genius ; it was not to stem the growth of what 
was, so to speak, Gothic or northern or Teutonic. The 
glass-painting, the sculpture, the architecture of northern 
France were to become their own great French selves ; and 
while the literature was to hold to forms derived from the 
antique and the Romanesque, the spirit and the contents 
did not come from Italy. 

The office of Latin culture in Germany and England was 
to be more definite and limited. Germany had never been 
subdued to the Roman order ; in Anglo-Saxon England, 
Roman civilization had been effaced by the Saxon conquest, 
which, like the Moorish conquest of Spain, was most com- 
plete in those parts of the land where the Roman influence 
had been strongest. In neither of these lands was there any 
antique atmosphere, or antique pagan substratum — save as 
the universal human soul is pagan ! Latinity came to 
Germans and Anglo-Saxons as a foreign culture, which was 
not to pertain to all men's daily living. It was matter for 
the educated, for the clergy. Its vehicle was a formal 
language, having no connection with the vernacular. And 
when the antique culture had obtained certain resting-places 
in England and Germany, the first benign labours of those 
Germans or Anglo-Saxons who had mastered the language 
consisted in the translation of edifying Latin matter into 
their own tongues. So Latinity in England and Germany 


was likely to remain a distinguishable influence. The 
Anglo-Saxons and the rest in England were to become 
Englishmen, the Germans were to remain Germans ; nor was 
either race ever to become Latinized, however deeply the 
educated people of these countries might imbibe Latinity, 
and exercise their intellects upon all that was contained 
in the antique metaphysics and natural science, literature 
and law. 

Thus diverse were the situations of the young mediaeval 
peoples with respect to the antique store. There were like 
differences of situation in regard to Latin Christianity. It 
had been formed (from some points of view, one might say, 
created) by the civilized peoples of the Roman Empire who 
had been converted in the course of the original diffusion of 
the Faith. It was, in fact, the product of the conversion of 
the Roman Empire, and, in Italy and the Latin provinces, 
received its final fashioning and temper from the Latin 
Fathers. So from the Latin -speaking portions of the 
Empire came the system which was to be presented to the 
Teutonic heathen peoples of the north. They had neither 
made it nor grown up with it. It was brought to the 
Franks, to the Anglo-Saxons, and to the Germans east of 
the Rhine, as a new and foreign faith. And the import 
of the fact that it was introduced to them as an authoritative 
religion did not lessen as Christianity became a formative 
element in their natures. 

One may say that an attitude of humble inferiority 
before Christianity and Latin culture was an initial condition 
of mediaeval development, having much to do with setting 
its future lines. In Italy, men looked back to what seemed 
even as a greater ancestral self, while in the minds of the 
northern peoples the ancient Empire represented all know- 
ledge and the summit of human greatness. The formulated 
and ordered Latin Christianity evoked even deeper homage. 
Well it might, since besides the resistless Gospel (its source 
of life) it held the intelligence and the organizing power of 
Rome, which had passed into its own last creation, the 
Catholic Church. And when this Christianity, so mighty 
in itself and august through the prestige of Rome, was pre- 
sented as under authority, its new converts might well be 


struck with awe. 1 It was such awe as this that acknowledged, 
the claims of the Roman bishops, and made possible a Roman 
and Catholic Church — the most potent unifying influence 
of the Middle Ages. 

Still more was the character of mediaeval progress set by 
the action and effect of these two forces. The Latin culture 
provided the means and method of elementary education, as 
well as the material for study ; while Latin Christianity, 
with transforming power, worked itself into the souls of the 
young mediaeval peoples. The two were assuredly the 
moulding forces of all mediaeval development ; and whatever 
sprang to life beyond the range of their action was not, 
properly speaking, mediaeval, even though seeing the light in 
the twelfth century. 2 Yet one should not think of these two 
great influences as entities, unchanging and utterly distinct 
from what must be called for simplicity's sake the native 
traits of the mediaeval peoples. The antique culture had 
never ceased to be part of the nature and faculties of Italians, 
and to some extent still made the inherited equipment of 
the Latinized or Latin-descended people of Spain and 
France. In the same lands also, Latin Christianity had 
attained its form. And even in England and Germany, 
Christianity and Latin culture would be distinct from the 
Teuton folk only at the first moment of presentation and 
acceptance. Thereupon the two would begin to enter into 

1 See post, Chapter IX., as to the manner of the coming of Augustine to 

2 The Icelandic Sagas, for example, were then brought into written form. 
They have a genius of their own ; they are realistic and without a trace of 
symbolism. They are wonderful expressions of the people among whom they 
were composed. Post, Chapter VIII. But, products of a remote island, they were 
unaffected by the moulding forces of mediaeval development, nor did they exert 
any influence in turn. The native traits of the mediaeval peoples were the great 
complementary factor in mediaeval progress — complementary, that is to say, to 
Latin Christianity and antique culture. Mediaeval characteristics sprang from 
the interaction of these elements ; they certainly did not spring from any such 
independent and severed growth of native Teuton quality as is evinced by the 
Sagas. One will look far, however, for another instance of such spiritual aloof- 
ness. For clear as are the different racial or national traits throughout the 
mediaeval period, they constantly appear in conjunction with other elements. 
They are discerned working beneath, possibly reacting against, and always 
affected by, the genius of the Middle Ages, to wit, the genius of the mutual 
interaction of the whole. Wolfram's very German Parzival, the old French 
Chanson de Roland, and above them all the Divina Commedia, are mediaeval. 
In these compositions in the vernacular, racial traits manifest themselves dis- 

' tinctly, and yet are affected by the mediaeval spirit. 


and affect their new disciples, and would themselves change 
under the process of their own assimilation by these Teutonic 

Nevertheless, the Latin Christianity of the Fathers and 
the antique fund of sentiment and knowledge, through their 
self-conserving strength, affected men in constant ways. 
Under their action the peoples of western Europe, from the 
eighth to the thirteenth century, passed through a homo- 
geneous growth, and evolved a spirit different from that of. 
any other period of history — a spirit which stood in awe 
before its monitors divine and human, and deemed that 
knowledge was to be drawn from the storehouse of the past ; 
which seemed to rely on everything except its sin-crushed 
self, and trusted everything except its senses ; which in the 
actual looked for the ideal, in the concrete saw the symbol, 
in the earthly Church beheld the heavenly, and in fleshly 
joys discerned the devil's lures ; which lived in the unrecon- 
ciled opposition between the lust and vain-glory of earth 
and the attainment of salvation ; which felt life's terror and 
its pitifulness, and its eternal hope ; around which waved 
concrete infinitudes, and over which flamed the terror of 
darkness and the Judgment Day. 


Under the action of Latin Christianity and the antique 
culture the mediaeval genius developed, as it fused the 
constituents of its growth into temperament and power. 
It was not its destiny to produce an extension of know- 
ledge or originate substantial novelties either of thought 
or imaginative conception. Its energies were rather to 
expend themselves in the creation of new forms — forms of 
apprehending and presenting what was (or might be) known 
from the old books, and all that from century to century 
was ever more plastically felt. This principle is most 
important for the true appreciation of the intellectual and 
emotional phenomena of the Middle Ages. 

When a sublime religion is offered to capable but half- 
civilized peoples, and at the same time an acquaintance 


is opened to them with the education, the knowledge, the 
literature of a great civilization, they cannot create new 
forms or presentations of what they have received, until the 
same has been assimilated, and has become plastic in their 
minds, as it were, part of their faculty and feeling. Mani- 
festly the northern peoples could not at once transmute the 
lofty and superabundant matter of Latin Christianity and 
its accompanying Latin culture, and present the same in 
new forms. Nor in truth could Italy, involved as she was 
in a disturbed decadence, wherein she seemed to be receding 
from an understanding of the nobler portions of her antique 
and Christian heritage, rather than progressing toward a 
vital use of one or the other. In Spain and France there 
was some decadence among Latinized provincials ; and the 
Teutonic conquerors were novices in both Christianity and 
Latinity. In these lands neither decadence nor the novelty 
of the matter was the sole embarrassment, but both com- 
bined to hinder creativeness, although the decadence was 
less obvious than in Italy, and the newness of the matter 
less utter than in Germany. 

The ancient material was appropriated, and then re- 
expressed in new forms, through two general ways of 
transmutation, the intellectual and the emotional. Al- 
though patently distinguishable, these would usually work 
together, with one or the other dominating the joint 

Of the two, the intellectual is the easier to analyze. 
Thinking is necessarily dependent on the thinker, although 
it appear less intimately part of him than his emotions, and 
less expressive of his character. Accordingly, the mediaeval 
genius shows somewhat more palely in its intellectual pro- 
ductions, than in the more emotional phases of literature and 
art. Yet the former exemplify not only mediaeval capacities, 
but also the mediaeval intellectual temperament, or, as it 
were, the synthetic predisposition of the mediaeval mind. 
This temperament, this intellectual predisposition, became in 
general more marked through the centuries from the ninth 
to the twelfth. People could not go on generation after 
generation occupied with like topics of intellectual interest, 
reasoning upon them along certain lines of religious and 


ethical suggestion, without developing or intensifying some 
general type of intellectual temper. 

From the Carolingian period onward, the men interested 
in knowledge learned the patristic theology, and, in gradually 
expanding compass, acquired antique logic and metaphysics, 
mathematics, natural science and jurisprudence. What they 
learned, they laboured to restate or expound. With each 
succeeding generation, the subjects of mediaeval study were 
made more closely part of the intelligence occupied with 
them ; because the matter had been considered for a longer 
time, and had been constantly restated and restudied in 
terms more nearly adapted to the comprehension of the men 
who were learning and restating it. At length mediaeval 
men made the antique and patristic material, or rather their 
understanding of it, dynamically their own. Their com- 
prehension of it became part of their intellectual faculties, 
they could think for themselves in its terms, think almost 
originally and creatively, and could present as their own the 
matter of their thoughts in restatements, that is, in forms 
essentially new. 

From century to century may be traced the process of 
restatement of patristic Christianity, with the antique 
material contained in it. The Christianity of the fifth 
century contained an amplitude of thought and learning. 
To the creative work of earlier and chiefly eastern men, the 
Latin intellect finally incorporate in Ambrose, Jerome, and 
Augustine had added its further great accomplishment and 
ordering. The sum of dogma was well-nigh made up ; the 
Trinity was established ; Christian learning had reached a 
compass beyond which it was not to pass for the next 
thousand years ; the doctrines as to the " sacred mysteries," 
as to the functions of the Church and its spiritual authority, 
existed in substance ; the principles of symbolism and 
allegory had been set ; the great mass of allegorical Scriptural 
interpretations had been devised ; the spiritual relationship 
of man to God's ordainment, to wit, the part to be played 
by the human will in man's salvation or damnation, had 
been reasoned out ; and man's need and love of God, his 
nothingness apart from the Source and King and End of 
Life, had been uttered in words which men still use. Evi- 


dently succeeding generations of less illumination could not 
add to this vast intellectual creation ; much indeed had to 
be done before they could comprehend and make it theirs, 
so as to use it as an element of their own thinking, or possess 
it as an inspiration of passionate, imaginative reverie. 

At the darkening close of the patristic period, Gregory 
the Great was still partially creative in his barbarizing 
handling of patristic themes. 1 After his death, for some 
three centuries, theologians were to devote themselves to 
mastering the great heritage from the Church Fathers. It 
was still a time of racial antipathy and conflict. The 
disparate elements of the mediaeval personality were as yet 
unblended. How could the unformed intellect of such a 
period grasp the patristic store of thought ? Still less 
might this wavering human spirit, uncertain of itself and 
unadjusted to novel and great conceptions, transform, and 
so renew, them with fresh life. Scarcely any proper re- 
casting of patristic doctrine will be found in the Carolingian 
period, but merely a shuffling of the matter. There were 
some exceptions, arising, as in the case of Eriugena, from 
the extraordinary genius of this thinker ; or again from 
the narrow controversial treatment of a matter argued with 
rupturing detachment of patristic opinions from their 
setting and balancing qualifications. 2 But the typical 
works of the eighth and ninth centuries were commentaries 
upon Scripture, consisting chiefly of excerpts from the 
Fathers. The flower of them all was the compendious 
Glossa Ordinaria of Walafrid Strabo, a pupil of the volumin- 
ous commentator Rabanus Maurus. 3 

Through the tenth and eleventh centuries, one finds no 
great advance in the systematic restatement of Christian 
doctrine. 4 Nevertheless, two hundred years of devotion 
have been put upon it ; and statements of parts of it occur, 
showing that the eleventh century has made progress over 

1 See post, Chapter V. 

2 The Predestination and Eucharistic controversies are examples ; post, 
Chapter X. 

3 See post, Chapter X. 

4 The lack of originality in the first half of the tenth century is illustrated by 
the Epitome of Gregory's Moralia, made by such an energetic person as Odo of 
Cluny. It occupies four hundred columns in Migne's Patrologia Latina, 133. 
See post, Chapter XII. 


the ninth in its thoughtful and vital appropriation of Latin 
Christianity. A man like German Othloh has thought for 
himself within its lines ; 1 Anselm of Canterbury has set 
forth pieces of it with a depth of reflection and intimacy of 
understanding which make his works creative ; 2 Peter 
Damiani through intensity of feeling has become the 
embodiment of Christian asceticism and the grace of Chris- 
tian tears ; 3 and Hildebrand has established the mediaeval 
papal church. Of a truth, the mediaeval man was adjusting 
himself, and reaching his understanding of what the past had 
given him. 

The twelfth century presents a universal progress in 
philosophic and theological thinking. It is the century of 
Abaelard, of Hugo of St. Victor and St. Bernard, and of 
Peter Lombard. The first of these penetrates into the 
logical premises of systematic thought as no mediaeval man 
had done before him ; St. Bernard moves the world through 
his emotional and political comprehension of the Faith ; 
Hugo of St. Victor offers a sacramental explanation of the 
universe and man, based upon symbolism as the working 
principle of creation ; and Peter Lombard makes or, at 
least, typifies, the systematic advance, from the Commentary 
to the Books of Sentences, in which he presents patristic 
doctrine arranged according to the cardinal topics of the 
Christian scheme. Here Abaelard's Sic et non had been a 
precursor rather carping in its excessive clear-sightedness. 

Thus, as a rule, each successive mediaeval period shows 
a more organic restatement of the old material. Yet this 
principle may be impeded or deflected, in its exemplifications, 
by social turmoil and disaster, or even by the use of further 
antique matter, demanding assimilation. For example, 
upon the introduction of the complete works of Aristotle in 
the thirteenth century, an enormous intellectual effort was 
required for the mastery of their contents. They were not 
mastered at once, or by all people who studied the 
philosopher. So the works of Hugo of St. Victor, of the first 
half of the twelfth century, are more original in their organic 
restatement of less vast material than are the works of 

1 See post, Chapter XIII. 2 See post, Chapter XI. 

3 See post, Chapter XVII. 


Albertus Magnus, Aristotle's prodigious expounder, one 
hundred years later. But Thomas Aquinas accomplishes 
a final Catholic presentation of the whole enlarged material, 
patristic and antique. 1 

One may perceive three stages in this chief phase of 
mediaeval intellectual progress consisting in the appropria- 
tion of Latin Christianity : its first conning, its more vital 
appropriation, its re-expression, with added elements of 
thought. There were also three stages in the evolution of 
the outer forms of this same catholic mastery and re-expres- 
sion of doctrine : first, the Scriptural Commentary ; secondly, 
the Books of Sentences ; and thirdly, the Summa Theologiae, 
of which Thomas Aquinas is the final definitive creator. 
The philosophical material used in its making was the sub- 
stantial philosophy of Aristotle, mastered at length by this 
Christian Titan of the thirteenth century. In the Summa, 
regarded visibly, as well as more inwardly and essentially 
considered, the Latin Christianity of the Fathers received an 
organically new form. 

Quite as impressive, more moving, and possibly more 
creative, than the intellectual recasting of the ancient 
patristic matter, were its emotional transformations. The 
sequence and character of mediaeval development is clearly 
seen in the evolution of new forms of emotional, and especially 
of poetic and plastic, expression. The intellectual transfor- 
mation of the antique and more especially the patristic 
matter, was accompanied by currents of desire and aversion 
running with increasing definiteness and power. As patristic 
thought became more organically mediaeval, more intrinsic- 
ally part of the intellectual faculties of men, it constituted 
with increasing incisiveness the suggestion and the rationale 
of emotional experiences, and set the lines accordingly of 
impassioned expression in devotional prose and verse, and 
in the more serious forms of art. Patristic theology, the 
authoritative statement of the Christian faith, contained 
men's furthest hopes and deepest fears set forth together 
with the divine Means by which those might be realized and 
these allayed. As generation after generation clung to this 
system as to the stay of their salvation, the intellectual 

1 These men will be fully considered later, Chapters XXXV.-XLI. 

cs. I 


consideration f jt became instinct with the emotions of 
desire an d aversion, and with love and gratitude toward the 
uffering means and instruments which made salvation 
ssible — the Crucified, the Weeping Mother, and the 
martyred or self-torturing saints. All these had suffered ; 
they were sublime objects for human compassion. Who 
could think upon them without tears ? Thus mediaeval 
religi° us thought became a well of emotion. 

Emotion breaks its way to expression ; it feeds itself 
upon its expression, thereby increasing in resistlessness ; 
it even becomes identical with its expression. Surely it 
creates the modes of its expression, seeking continually 
the more facile, the more unimpeded, which is to say, the 
adequate and perfect form. Typical mediaeval emotion, 
which was religious, cast itself around the Gospel of Christ 
and the theology of the Fathers as studied and pondered on 
in the mediaeval centuries. Seeking fitting forms of expres- 
sion, which are at once modes of relief and forms of added 
power, the passionate energy of the mediaeval genius con- 
strained the intellectual faculties to unite with it in the 
production of these forms. They were to become more 
personal and original than any mere scholastic restatement 
of the patristic and antique thought. Yet the perfect form 
of the emotional expression was not quickly reached. It 
could not outrun the intelligent appropriation of Latin 
Christianity. Its media, moreover, as in the case of sculp- 
ture, might present retarding difficulties to be overcome 
before that means of presentation could be mastered. A 
sequence may be observed in the evolution of the forms of 
the mediaeval emotional expression of patristic Christianity. 
One of the first attained was impassioned devotional Latin 
prose, like that of Peter Damiani or St. Anselm of Canter- 
bury. 1 But prose is a halting means of emotional expression. 
It is too circumstantial and too slow. Only in the chanted 
strophe, winged with the power of rhythm, can emotion pour 
out its unimpeded strength. But before the thought can be 
fused in verse, it must be plastic, molten indeed. Even then, 
the finished verse is not produced at once. The perfected 
mediaeval Latin strophe was a final form of religious 

1 See post, Chapter XXXII. 


emotional expression, which was not attained until the 
twelfth century. 1 

Impassioned prose may be art ; the loftier forms of verse 
are surely art. And art is not spontaneous, but carefully 
intended ; no babbling of a child, but a mutual fitting of 
form and content, in which efficient unison the artist's intel- 
lect has worked. Such intellectual, such artistic endeavour, 
was evinced in the long development of mediaeval plastic art. 
The sculpture and the painted glass, which tell the Christian 
story in Chartres Cathedral, set forth the patristic and antique 
matter in forms expressive of the feeling and emotion which 
had gathered around the scheme of Latin Christianity. 
They were forms never to be outdone for appropriateness 
and power. Several centuries not only of spiritual growth, 
but of mechanical and artistic effort, had been needed for 
their perfecting. 

In these and like emotional recastings, or indeed 
creations, patristic and antique elements were transformed 
and transfigured. And again, in fields non-religious and non- 
philosophical, through the evolution of the mediaeval mind 
and heart, novelties of sentiment and situation were intro- 
duced into antique themes of fiction ; new forms of romance, 
new phases of human love and devotion were evolved, in 
which (witness the poetry of chivalric love in Provencal 
and Old French) the energies of intellect and passion were 
curiously blended. 2 These represented a side of human 
growth not unrelated to the supreme mediaeval achievement, 
the vital appropriation and emotional humanizing of[ 
patristic Christianity. For that carried an impassioning- 
of its teachings with love and tears, a fostering of them with 
devotion, an adorning of them with quivering fantasies, a 
translation of them into art, into poetry, into romance. 
With what wealth of love and terror, with what grandeur 
of imagination, with what power of mystery and symbolism, 
did the Middle Ages glorify their heritage, turning its 
precepts into spirit. 

Of a surety the emotional is not to be separated from the 
intellectual recasting of Christianity. The greatest ex- 
ponents of the one had their share in the other. Hugo of St. 

1 See post, Chapter XXXIII. 2 Post, Chapter XXIV. 


Victor as we]l as St. Bernard were mighty agents of this 
spiritually passionate mode of apprehending Latin Chris- 
tianity, and transfusing it with emotion, or reviving the 
Gospel elements in it, Here work, knowingly or instinctively, 
many men and women, Peter Damiani and St. Francis of 
Assisi, St. Hildegarde of Bingen and Mechthilde of Magde- 
burg, who, according to their diverse temperaments, 
overmasteringly and burningly loved Christ. With them 
the intellectual appropriation of dogmatic Christianity was 

Such men and women were poets and artists, even when 
they wrote no poetry, and did not carve or paint. For their 
lives were poems, unisons of overmastering thoughts and the 
emotions inspired by them. The life of Francis was a living 
poem. It was kin to the Dies Irae, the Stabat Mater, the 
hymns of Adam of St. Victor, and in a later time, the 
Divina Commedia. For all these poems, in their different 
ways, using Christian thought and feeling as symbols, created 
imaginative presentations of universal human moods, even 
as the lives of Francis and many a cloistered soul presented 
like moods in visible embodiment. 

Such lives likewise close in with art. They poured 
themselves around the symbols of the human person of 
Christ and its sacrificial presence in the Eucharist ; they 
grasped the infinite and universal through these tangibilities. 
But the poems also sprang into being through a concrete 
realizing in mood, and a visualizing in narrative, of such 
symbols. And the same need of grasping the infinite and 
universal through symbols was the inspiration of mediaeval 
art : it built the cathedrals, painted their windows, filled 
their niches with statues, carving prophet types, carving the 
times and seasons of God's providence, carving the vices and 
virtues of the soul and its eternal destiny, and at the same 
time augmenting the Liturgy with symbolic words and acts. 
So saint and poet and artist-craftsman join in that appro- 
priation of Christianity which was vivifying whatever had 
come from the Latin Fathers, by pondering upon it, loving 
it, living it, imagining it, and making it into poetry and art. 

It is better not to generalize further, or attempt more 
specifically to characterize the mediaeval genius. As its 


manifestations pass before our consideration, we shall see 
the complexity of thought and life within the interplay of 
the moulding forces of mediaeval development, as they 
strove with each other or wrought in harmony, as they were 
displayed in frightful contrasts between the brutalities of life 
and the lofty, but not less real, strainings of the spirit, or 
again in the opposition between inchoately variant ideals 
and the endeavour for their more inclusive reconcilement. 
Various phases of the mediaeval spirit were to unfold only 
too diversely with popes, kings and knights, monks, nuns, 
and heretics, satirists, troubadours and minnesingers ; in 
emotional yearnings and intellectual ideals ; in the literature 
of love and the literature of its suppression ; in mistress- 
worship, and the worship of the Virgin and the passion- 
flooded Christ of Canticles. Sublimely will this spirit show 
itself in the resistless apotheosis of symbolism, and in art 
and poetry giving utterance to the mediaeval conceptions of 
order and beauty. Other of its phases will be evinced in 
the striving of earnest souls for spiritual certitude ; in the 
scholastic structure and accomplishment ; in the ways in 
which men felt the spell of the Classics ; and everywhere 
and universally in the mediaeval conflict between life's 
fulness and the insistency of the soul's salvation. 



The intellectual and spiritual life of the partly Hellenized 
and at last Christianized, Roman Empire furnished the 
contents of the intellectual and spiritual development of the 
Middle Ages. 1 In Latin forms the Christian and antique 
elements passed to the mediaeval period. Their Latiniza- 
tion, their continuance, and their passing on, were due to 
the existence of the Empire as a political and social fact. 
Rome's equal government facilitated the transmission of 
Greek thought through the Mediterranean west ; Roman 
arms, Roman qualities conquered Spain and Gaul, subdued 
them to the Roman order, opened them to Graeco-Latin 
influences, also to Christianity. Indelibly Latinized in 
language and temper, Spain, Gaul, and Italy present first a 
homogeneity of culture and civic order, and then a common 
decadence and confusion. But decadence and confusion did 
not obliterate the ancient elements ; which painfully endured, 
passing down disfigured and bedimmed, to form the basis 
of mediaeval culture. 

The all-important Latinization of western Europe began 
with the unification of Italy under Rome. This took five 
centuries of war. In central Italy, Marsians, Samnites, 
Umbrians, Etruscans, were slowly conquered ; and in the 
south Rome stood forth at last triumphant after the war 
against Tarentum and Pyrrhus of Epirus. With Rome's 
political domination, the Latin language also won its way 
to supremacy throughout the peninsula, being drasti- 

1 The term " spiritual " is here intended to signify the activities of the mind 
which are emotionalized with yearning or aversion, and therefore may be said 
to belong to the entire nature of man. 



cally forced, along with Roman civic institutions, upon 
Tarentum and the other Greek communities of Magna 
Graecia. 1 Yet in revenge, from this time on, Greek medicine 
and manners, mythology, art, poetry, philosophy — Greek 
thought in every guise — entered the Latin pale. 

At the time of which we speak, the third century before 
Christ, the northern boundaries of Italy were still the 
rivers Arno and, to the east, the Aesis, which flows into 
the Adriatic, near Ancona. North-west of the Arno, 
Ligurian highlanders held the mountain lands as far as 
Nice. North of the Aesis lay the valley of the Po. That 
great plain may have been occupied at an early time by 
Etruscan communities scattered through a Celtic population 
gradually settling to an agricultural life. Whatever may be 
the facts as to the existence of these earlier Celts, other and 
ruder Celtic tribes swarmed down from the Alps 2 about 400 
B.C., spread through the Po Valley, pushing the Etruscans 
back into Etruria, and following them there to carry on the 
war. After this comes the well-known story of Roman 
interference, leading to Roman overthrow at the river Allia 
in 390, and the capture of the city by these " Gauls." The 
latter then retired northward, to occupy the Po Valley ; 
though bands of them settled as far south as the Aesis. 

Time and again, Rome was to be reminded of the Celtic 
peril. Between the first and second Punic wars, the Celts, 
reinforced, from beyond the Alps, attacked Etruria and 
threatened Rome. Defeating them, the Consuls pushed 
north to subdue the Po Valley (222 B.C.). South of the 
river the Celts were expelled, and their place was filled by 
Roman colonists. The fortress cities of Placentia (Piacenza) 
and Cremona were founded on the right and left banks of 
the Po, and south-east of them Mutina (Modena). The 

1 The history of the spread of Latin through Italy and the provinces is from 
the nature of the subject obscure. Budinsky's Die Ausbreitung der lateinischer 
Sprache (Berlin, 1881) is somewhat unsatisfactory. See also Meyer-Lubke, Die 
lateinische Sprache in den romanischen Ldndern (Grober's Grundriss, i 2 , 451 
sqq. ; F. G. Mohl, Introduction d la chronologie du latin vulgaire (1899). The 
statements in the text are very general, and ignore intentionally the many difficult 
questions as to what sort of Latin — dialectal, popular, or literary — was spread 
through the peninsula. See Mohl, o.c. § 33 sqq. 

2 Tradition says from Gaul, but the sifted evidence points to the Danube north 
of the later province of Noricum. See Bertrand and Reinach, Les Celtes- dans les 
vallies du P6 et du Danube (Paris, 1894). 


Flaminian road was extended across the Apennines to 
Fanum, and thence to Ariminum (Rimini), thus connecting 
the two Italian seas.y 

Hannibal's invasion of Italy brought fresh disturbance, 
and when the war with him was over, Rome set herself to 
the final subjugation of the Celts north of the Po. Upon 
their submission the Latinization of the whole valley began, 
and advanced apace ; but the evidence is scanty. Statius 
Caecilius, a comic Latin poet, was a manumitted Insubrian 
Celt who had been brought to Rome probably as a prisoner 
of war. He died in 168 B.C. Some generations after him, 
Cornelius Nepos was born in upper Italy, and Catullus at 
Verona ; Celtic blood may have flowed in their veins. In 
the meanwhile the whole region had been organized as 
Gallia Cisalpina, with its southern boundary fixed at the 
Rubicon, which flows near Rimini. 

The Celts of northern Italy were the first palpably non- 
Italian people to adopt the Latin language. Second in time 
and thoroughness to their Latinization was that of Spain. 
Military reasons led to its conquest. Hamilcar's genius had 
created there a Carthaginian power, as a base for the invasion 
of Italy. This project, accomplished by Hamilcar's son, 
brought home to the Roman Senate the need to control the 
Spanish peninsula. The expulsion of the Carthaginians, 
which followed, did not give mastery over the land ; and 
two centuries of Roman persistence were required to subdue 
the indomitable Iberians. 

So, in the end, Spain was conquered, and became a 
Latin country. Its tribal cantons were replaced with urban 
communities, and many Roman colonies were founded, to 
grow to prosperous cities. These were strongholds of Latin. 
Cordova became a very famous home of education and 
letters. Apparently the southern Spaniards had fully 
adopted the ways and speech of Rome before Strabo wrote 
his Geography, about a.d. 20. The change was slower in the 
mountains of Asturia, but quite rapid in the north-eastern 
region known as Nearer Spain, Hispania Citerior, as it was 
called. There, at the town of Osca (Huesca), Sertorius 
eighty years before Christ had established the first Latin 
school for the native Spanish youth. 


The reign of Augustus, and especially his two years' 
sojourn in Spain (26 and 25 B.C.) brought quiet to the 
peninsula, and thereafter no part of the Empire enjoyed 
such unbroken peace. Of all lands outside of Italy, with 
the possible exception of Provincia, Spain became most 
completely Roman in its institutions, and most unequivo- 
cally Latin in its culture. It was the most populous of the 
European provinces ; J and no other held so many Roman 
citizens, or so many cities early endowed with Roman civic 
rights. 2 The great Augustan literature was the work of 
natives of Italy. 3 But in the Silver Age that followed, many 
of the chief Latin authors — the elder and younger Seneca, 
Lucan, Quintilian — were Spaniards. They were unquestioned 
representatives of Latin literature, with no provincial twang 
in their writings. Then, of Rome's emperors, Trajan was 
born in Spain, and Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius were of 
Spanish blood. 

Perhaps even more completely Latinized wasNarbonensis, 
commonly called Provincia. Its official name was drawn 
from the ancient town of Narbo (Narbonne), which in 118 
B.C. was refounded as a Roman colony in partial accomplish- 
ment of the plans of Caius Gracchus. The boundaries of 
this colony touched those of the Greek city-state Massilia 
(Marseilles), whose rights were respected Until it sided against 
Caesar in the Civil War. Save for the Massilian territory, 
which it later included, Provincia stretched from the eastern 
Pyrenees by the way of Nemausus (Nimes) and the Arelate 
(Aries) north-easterly through the Rhone Valley, taking in 
Vienne and Valence in the country of the Allobroges, and 
then onward to the edge of Lake Geneva ; thence southerly 
along the Maritime Alps to the sea. Many of its towns 
owed their prosperity to Caesar. In his time the country 
west of the Rhone was already half Latin, and was filling 

1 See Beloch, Bevblkerung der grieckisch-rbmischen Welt, p. 507 (Leipzig, 

2 Mommsen says that in Augustus's time fifty Spanish cities had the full 
privileges of Roman citizenship and fifty others the rights of Italian towns 
{Roman Provinces, i. 75, Eng. trans.). But this seems a mistake ; as the 
enumeration of Beloch, Bevblkerung, etc., p. 330, gives fifty in all, following 
the account of Pliny. 

3 Cicero, Pro Archia, 10, speaks slightingly of poets born at Cordova, but 
later, Latro of Cordova was Ovid's teacher. 


up with men from Italy. 1 Two or three generations later, 
Pliny dubbed it Italia verius quam provincia. At all events, 
like northern Italy and Spain, Provincia, throughout its 
length and breadth, had appropriated the Latin civilization 
of Rome ; that civilization city-born and city-reared, solvent 
of cantonal organization and tribal custom, destructive of 
former ways of living and standards of conduct ; a civiliza- 
tion which was commercial as well as military in its means, 
and urban in its ends ; which loved the life of the forum, the 
theatre, the circus, the public bath, and seemed to gain its 
finest essence from the instruction of the grammarian and 
rhetorician. The language and literature of this civilization 
were those of an imperial city, and were to be the language 
and literature of the Latin city universal, in whatever western 
land its walls might rise. 

North of Provincia stretched the great territory reaching 
from the Atlantic to the Rhine, and with its edges following 
that river northerly, and again westerly to the sea. This 
was Caesar's conquest, his omnis Gallia. The resistlessness 
of Rome, her civic and military superiority over the western 
peoples whom she conquered, may be grasped from the 
record of Gallic subjugation by one in whom great Roman 
qualities were united. Perhaps the deepest impression 
received by the reader of those Commentaries is of the man 
behind the book, Caesar himself. The Gallic War passes 
before us as a presentation, or medium of realization, of that 
all-compelling personality, with whom to consider was to 
plan, and to resolve was to accomplish, without hesitation or 
fear, by the force of mind. It is in the mirror of this man's 
contempt for restless irresolution, for unsteadiness and 
impotence, that Gallic qualities are shown, the reflection 
undisturbed either by intolerance or sympathy. The Gauls 
were always anxious for change, mobiliter celeriterque in- 
flamed to war or revolution, says Caesar in his memorable 
words ; and, like all men, they were by nature zealous for 
liberty, hating the servile state — so it behoved Caesar 
to distribute his legions with foresight in a certain 

1 The Roman law was used throughout Provincia. In this respect a line is 
to be drawn between Provincia and the North. See post, Chapter XXXIV., 
II. and III. 


crisis. 1 Thus, without shrug or smile, writes the greatest 
of revolutionists who for himself was also seeking liberty 
of action, freely and devisingly, not hurried by impatience 
or any such planless restlessness as, for example, drove 
Dumnorix the Aeduan to plot feebly, futilely, without plan 
or policy, against fate, to wit Caesar — so he met his death. 2 

Instability appears as peculiarly characteristic of the 
Gauls. They were not barbarians, but an ingenious folk, 
quick-witted and loquacious. 3 Their domestic customs were 
reasonable ; they had taxes and judicial tribunals ; their 
religion held belief in immortality, and in other respects was 
not below the paganism of Italy. It was directed by the 
priestly caste of Druids, who possessed considerable know- 
ledge, and used the Greek alphabet in writing. They also 
presided at trials, and excommunicated suitors who would 
not obey their judicial decrees. 4 

The country was divided into about ninety states 
{civitates) . Monarchies appear among them, but the greater 
number were aristocracies torn with jealousy, and always in 
alarm lest some noble's overweening influence upset the 
government. The common people and poor debtors seem 
scarcely to have counted. Factions existed in every state, 
village, and even household, says Caesar, 5 headed by the 
rival states of the Aedui and Sequani. Espousing, as he 
professed to, the Aeduan cause, Caesar could always appear 
as an ally of one faction. At the last a general confederacy 
took up arms against him under the noble Auvernian, 
Vercingetorix. 6 But the instability of his authority forced 
the hand of this brilliant leader. 

In fine, it would seem that the Gallic peoples had pro- 

1 Bellum Gallicum, hi. 10. Cf., generally, Caesar's Conquest of Gaul, T. R. 
Holmes (2nd ed., Oxford, 1911). 

2 Bellum Gallicum, v. 6. 

3 Porcius Cato in his Origines, written a hundred years before Caesar crossed 
the mountains, says that Gallia was devoted to the art of war and to eloquence 
{argute loqui). Presumably the Gallia that Cato thus characterized as clever or 
acute of speech, was Cisalpine Gaul, to wit, the north of Italy ; yet Caesar's 
transalpine Gauls were both clever of speech and often the fools of their own argu- 
ments. Lucian, in his Hercules (No. 55, Dindorfs edition), has his "Celt" 
argue that Hercules accomplished his deeds by the power of words. 

4 See, generally, Fustel de Coulanges, Institutions politiques de Vancienne 
France, vol. i. (La Gaule romaine). 

5 Bellum Gallicum, vi. n, 12. 

6 Cf. Julian, Vercingetorix (2nd ed., Paris, 1902). 


gressed in civilization as far as their limited political capacity 
and self-control would allow. These were the limitations 
set by the Gallic character. It is a Gallic custom, says 
Caesar, to stop travellers, and insist upon their telling 
what they know or have heard. In the towns the crowd 
will throng around a merchant and make him tell where he 
has come from and give them the news. Upon such hear- 
say the Gauls enter upon measures of the gravest importance. 
The states which are deemed the best governed, he adds, 
have a law that whenever any one has heard a report or 
rumour of public moment, he shall communicate it to a 
magistrate and to none else. The magistrates conceal or 
divulge such news in their discretion. It is not permitted to 
discuss public affairs save in an assembly. 1 

Apparently Caesar is not joking in these passages, which 
speak of a statecraft based on gossip gathered in the streets, 
carried straight to a magistrate, and neither discussed nor 
divulged on the way ! Quite otherwise were Roman officials 
to govern, when Caesar's great campaigns had subdued these 
mercurial Gauls. It was after his death that Augustus 
established the Roman order through the land. In those 
famous partes tres of the Commentaries he settled it : Iberian 
and Celtic Aquitania, Celtic Lugdunensis, and Celtic-Teuton 
Belgica, making together the three Gauls. It is significant 
that the emperor kept them as imperial provinces, still 
needing military administration, while he handed over Pro- 
vincia to the Senate. 

Provincia had been Romanized in law and government 
as the " Three Gauls " never were to be. Augustus followed 
Caesar in respecting the tribal and cantonal divisions of the 
latter, making only such changes as were necessary. Gallic 
cities under the Empire show no great uniformity. Each 
appears as the continuance of the local tribe, whose life and 
politics were focussed in the town. The city (civitas) did 
not end with the town walls, but included the surrounding 
country and perhaps many villages. A number of these 
cities preserved their ancient constitutions ; others con- 
formed to the type of Roman colonies, whose constitutions 
were modelled on those of Italian cities. Colonia Claudia 

1 Bellum Gallicum, iv. 5 ; vi. 20. 


Agrippina (Cologne) is an example. But all the cities of 
the " Three Gauls " as well as those of Provincia, whatever 
their form of government, conducted their affairs with senate, 
magistrates and police of their choosing, had their municipal 
property, and controlled their internal finances. A diet was 
established for the " Three Gauls " at Lyons, to which the 
cities sent delegates. Whatever were its powers, its existence 
tended to foster a sense of common Gallic nationality. The 
Roman franchise, however, was but sparingly bestowed on 
individuals, and was not granted to any Gallic city (except 
Lyons) until the time of Claudius, himself born at Lyons. 
He refounded Cologne as a colony, granted the franchise to 
Treves, and abolished the provisions forbidding Gauls to 
hold the imperial magistracies. With the reorganization of 
the Empire under Diocletian, Treves became the capital not 
only of Gaul, but of Spain and Britain also. 

Although there was thus no violent Romanization of 
Gaul, Roman civilization rapidly progressed under imperial 
fostering, and by virtue of its own energy. Roman roads 
traversed the country ; bridges spanned the rivers ; aque- 
ducts were constructed ; cities grew, trade increased, agri- 
culture improved, and the vine was introduced. At the time 
of Caesar's conquest, the quick-minded Gauls were prepared 
to profit from a superior civilization ; and under the mighty 
peace of Rome, men settled down to the blessings of safe 
living and law regularly enforced. 

The spread of the Latin tongue and the finer elements of 
Latin culture followed the establishment of the Roman order. 
One Gallic city and then another adopted the new language 
according to its circumstances and situation. Of course the 
cities of Provincia took the lead, largely Italian as they were 
in population. On the other hand, Latin made slow progress 
among the hills of Auvergne. But further north, the Roman 
city of Lyons was Latin- tongued from its foundation. Thence 
to the remoter north and west and east, Latin spread by 
cities, the foci of affairs and provincial administration. The 
imperial government did hot demand of its subjects that they 
should abandon their native speech, but required in Gaul, as 
elsewhere, the use of Latin in the transaction of official 
business. This compelled all to study Latin who had affairs 


in law courts or with officials, or hoped to become magistrates. 
Undoubtedly the rich and noble, especially in the towns, 
learned Latin quickly, and it soon became the vehicle of 
polite, as well as official, intercourse. It was also the 
language of the schools attended by the noble Gallic youth. 
But among the rural population, the native tongues con- 
tinued indefinitely. Obviously one cannot assign any 
specific time for the popular and general change from Celtic ; 
but it appears to have very generally taken place before the 
Frankish conquest. 1 i 

By that time, too, those who would naturally constitute 
the educated classes, possessed a Latin education. First in 
the cities of Provincia, Nimes, Aries, Vienne, Frejus, Aix in 
Provence, then of course at Lyons and in Aquitaine, and 
later through the cities of the north-east, Treves, Mainz, 
Cologne, and most laggingly through the north-west Belgic 
lands lying over against the channel and the North Sea, 
Latin education spread. Grammar and rhetoric were 
taught, and the great Classics were explained and read, till 
the Gauls doubtless felt themselves Roman in spirit as in 

Of course they were mistaken. To be sure the Gaul 
was a citizen of the Empire, which not only represented 
safety and civilization, but in fact was the entire civilized 
world. He had no thought of revolting from that, any more 
than from his daily habits or his daily food. Often he felt 
himself sentimentally affected toward this universal symbol 
of his welfare. He had Latin speech ; he had Roman 
fashions ; he took his warm baths and his cold, enjoyed the 
sports of the amphitheatre, studied Roman literature, and 
talked of the Respublica and Aurea Roma. Yet he was, 
after all, merely a Romanized inhabitant of Gaul. Roman 
law and government, Latin education, and the colour of the 

x There are a number of texts from the second to the fifth century which bear 
on the matter. Taken altogether they are unsatisfying, if not blind. They have 
been frequently discussed. See Grober, Grundriss der romanischen Philologie, 
i. 451 sqq. (2nd edition, 1904) ; Brunot, Origines de la langue frangaise, which 
is the Introduction to Petit de Julleville's Histoire de la langue et de la 
litterature frangaise (Paris, 1896) ; Bonnet, Le Latin de Gregoire de Tours, ,pp. 
22-30 (Paris, 1890) ; Mommsen's Provinces of the Roman Empire, p. 108 sqq. of 
English translation ; Fustel de Coulanges, Institutions politiques, vol. i. {La Gaule 
romaine), pp. 125-135 (Paris, 1891) ; Roger, U Enseignement des lettres classiques 
d'Ausone a Alcuin, p. 24 sqq. (Paris, 1905). 


Roman spirit had been imparted ; but the inworking, 
creative genius of Rome was not within her gift or his 
capacity. The Gauls, however, are the chief example of a 
mediating people. Romanized and not made Roman, their 
epoch, their geographical situation, and their modified 
faculties, all made them intermediaries between the Roman 
and the Teuton. 

If the Romanization of the " Three Gauls " was least 
thorough in Belgica, there was even less of it across the 
channel. Britain/ as far north as the Clyde and Firth of 
Forth, was a Roman province for three or four hundred 
years. Latin was the language of the towns ; but probably 
never supplanted the Celtic in the country. The Roman- 
ization of the Britons, however, whether thorough or super- 
ficial, affected a people who were to be apparently submerged. 
They seem to have transmitted none of their Latin civiliza- 
tion to their Anglo-Saxon conquerors. Yet even the latter 
when they came to Britain were not quite untouched by 
Rome. They were familiar with Roman wares, if not with 
Roman ways ; and certain Latin words which are found in 
all Teutonic languages had doubtless entered Anglo-Saxon. 1 
But this early Roman influence was slight, compared with 
that which afterwards came with Christianity. Nor did the 
Roman culture, before the introduction of Christianity, exert 
a deep effect on Germany, at least beyond the neighbourhood 
of the large Roman or Romanized towns like Cologne and 
Mainz. In many ways, indeed, the Germans were touched 
by Rome. Roman diplomacy, exciting tribe against tribe, 
was decimating them. Roman influences, and sojourn at 
Rome, had taught much to many German princes. Roman 
weapons, Roman utensils and wares of all kinds were used 
from the Danube to the Baltic. But all this did not 
Romanize the Germans, any more than the Latin words 
which had crept in Latinized their language. 2 

1 Such words are, e.g., wine, street, wall. See Toller, History of the English 
Language (Macmillan & Co., 1900), pp. 41, 42. 

2 See Paul, Gntndriss der germanischen Philologie, Band i. pp. 30^-315 (Strass- 
burg, 1891). 



The Latin West afforded the milieu in which the thoughts 
and sentiments of the antique and partly Christian world 
were held in Latin forms and preserved from obliteration 
during the fifth and succeeding centuries, until taken up by 
the currents of mingled decrepitude and callowness which 
marked the coming of the mediaeval time. Latin Christianity 
survived, and made its way across those stormy centuries to 
its mediaeval harbourage. The antique also was carried 
over, either in the ship of Latin Christianity, or in tenders 
freighted by certain Latin Christians who dealt in secular 
learning, though not in " unbroken packages." Those 
unbroken packages, to wit, the Latin classics, and after 
many centuries the Greek, also floated over. But in the 
early mediaeval times, men preferred the pagan matter 
rehashed, as in the Etymologies of Isidore. 

The great ship of Christian doctrine not only bore bits 
of the pagan antique stowed here and there, but itself was 
built with many a plank of antique timber, and there were 
antique ingredients in its Christian freight ; in other words, 
the theology of the Church Fathers was partly made of 
Greek philosophy, and was put together in modes of Greek 
philosophic reasoning. The Fathers lived in the Roman 
Empire, or in what was left of it in the third, fourth, fifth, 
and sixth centuries. Many of them were born of pagan 
parents, and all received the common education in grammar, 
rhetoric, and literature, which were pagan and permeated 
with pagan philosophy. For philosophy was then the 
highest branch of education, and had become a source of 

VOL. I 33 d 


principles of conduct and " daily thoughts for daily needs." 
Many of the Fathers in their pagan, or at least unsanctified 
youth, had deeply studied it. 

Philosophy held the sum of knowledge in the Empire, 
and from it came the concepts in which all the Fathers 
reasoned. But the Latin Fathers, who were juristically and 
rhetorically educated, might also reason through conceptions, 
or in a terminology, taken from the Roman Law. J Never- 
theless, in the rational process of formulating Christian 
dogma, Greek philosophy was the overwhelmingly important 
factor, because it furnished knowledge and the metaphysical 
concepts, and because the greater number of Christian 
theologians were Hellenic in spirit, and wrote Greek ; while 
the Latins reset in Latin, and sometimes juristic, phrase what 
their eastern brethren had evolved. 1 

Obviously, in order to appreciate the mental endowment 
of the Middle Ages, it is essential to have cognizance of 
patristic thought. And in order to understand the mental 
processes of the Fathers, their attitude toward knowledge 
and their perception of fact, one must consider their intel- 
lectual environment ; which was, of course, made up of 
the store of knowledge and philosophic interests prevailing 
in the Roman Empire. So we have to gauge the intellectual 
interests of the pagan world, first in the earlier times when 
thinkers were bringing together knowledge and philosophic 
concepts, and then in the later period when its accumulated 
and somewhat altered thought made the actual environment 
of the Church. 

What race had ever a more genial appreciation of the 
facts of nature and of mortal life, than the Greeks ? The 
older Greek philosophies had sprung from open and unpre- 
judiced observation of the visible world. They were physical 
inquiries. With Socrates philosophy turned, as it were, from 

1 A prime illustration is afforded by the Latin juristic word persona used in 
the Creed. The Latins had to render the three vTro<rT&aet.s of the Greeks ; and 
" three somethings," tria quaedam, was too loose, as Augustine says (De 
Trinitate, vii. 7-12). The true and literal translation of vTrbaracns would have 
been substantia ; but that word had been taken to render oiaia. So the legal 
word persona was employed in spite of its recognized unfitness. Cf. Taylor, 
Classical Heritage, etc., p. 116 sqq. 


fact to truth, to a consideration of the validity of human 
understanding. Thereupon the Greek mind became en- 
tranced with its own creations. Man was the measure of all 
things, for the Sophists. More irrefragably and pregnantly, 
man became the measure of all things for Socrates and Plato. 
The aphorism might be discarded ; but its transcendental 
import was established in an imaginative dialectic whose 
correspondence to the divinest splendours of the human mind 
warranted its truth. With Platonists — and the world was 
always to be filled with them — perceptions of physical facts 
and the data of human life and history, were henceforth to 
constitute the outer actuality of a creation within the mind. 
Every observed fact is an apparent tangibility ; but its 
reality consists in its unison with the ultimate realities of 
rational conception. The apprehension of the fact must be 
made to conform to these. For this reason every fact has a 
secondary, nay, primary, because spiritual, meaning. Its 
true interpretation lies in that significance which accords 
with the mind's consistent system of conceptions, which 
present the fact as it must be thought, and therefore as it is ; 
it is the fact brought into right relationship with spiritual 
and ethical verity. Of course, methods of apprehending 
terrestrial and celestial phenomena as illustrations of ideally 
conceived principles, were unlikely to foster habits of close 
observation. The apparent facts of sense would probably 
be imaginatively treated if not transformed in the process of 
their apprehension. Nor, with respect to human story, 
would such methods draw fixed lines between the narration 
of what men are pleased to call the actual occurrence, and 
the shaping of a tale to meet the exigencies of argument or 

All this is obvious in Plato. The Timae us was his 
vision of the universe, in which physical facts became plastic 
material for the spirit's power to mould into the likeness of 
ideal conceptions. The creation of the universe is conformed 
to the structure of Platonic dialectic. If any meaning be 
certain through the words and imagery of this dialogue, it is 
that the world and all creatures which it contains derive 
such reality as they have from conformity to the thoughts or 
ideal patterns in the divine mind. Visible things are real 


only so far as they conform to those perfect conceptions. 
Moreover, the visible creation has another value, that of its 
ethical significance. Physical phenomena symbolize the 
conformity of humanity to its best ideal of conduct. Man 
may learn to regulate the lawless movements of his soul 
from the courses of the stars, the noblest of created gods. 

Thus as to natural phenomena ; and likewise as to the 
human story, fact or fiction. The myth of the shadow-seers 
in the cave, with which the seventh book of the Republic 
opens, is just as illustratively and ideally true as that 
opening tale in the Timaeus of the ancient Athenian state, 
which fought for its own and others' freedom against the 
people of Atlantis — till the earthquake ended the old 
Athenian race, and the Atlantean continent was swallowed 
in the sea. This story has piqued curiosity for two thousand 
years. Was it tradition, or the creation of an artist dialect- 
ician ? In either case its ideal and edifying truth stood or 
fell, not by reason of conformity to any basic antecedent 
fact, but according to its harmony with the beautiful and 

v Plato's method of conceiving fact might be applied to 
man's thoughts of God, of the origin of the world and the 
courses of the stars ; also to the artistic manipulation of 
illustrative or edifying story. I Matters, large, remote, and 
mysterious, admit of idealizing ways of apprehension. But it 
might seem idiocy, rather than idealism, to apply this method 
to the plain facts of common life, which may be handled and 
looked at all around — to which there is no mysterious other 
side, like the moon's, for ever turned away. Nevertheless 
the method and its motives drew men from careful observa- 
tion of nature, and would invest biography and history with 
interests promoting the ingenious application, rather than 
the close scrutiny, of fact. 

[ Thus Platonism and its way of treating narrative could 
not but foster the allegorical interpretation of ancient 
tradition and literature, which was already in vogue in 
Plato's time. ^ It mattered not that he would have nothing 
to do with the current allegories through which men moralized 
or rationalized the old tales of the doings of the gods. He 
was himself a weaver of the loveliest allegories when it 


rve d his purpose. And after him the allegorical habit 
entered into the interpretation of all ancient story. In the 
course of time allegory will be applied by the Jew Philo of 
Alexandria to the Pentateuch ; and one or two centuries 
later it will play a great role in Christian polemics against 
jew and then against Manichean. It will become par 
excellence the chief mode of patristic exegesis, and pass on 
as a legacy of spiritual truth to the mediaeval church. 

Aristotle strikes us as a man of different type from Plato. 
Whether his intellectual interests were broader than his 
teacher's is hardly for ordinary people to say. He certainly 
was more actively interested in the investigation of nature. 
Head of an actual school (as Plato had been), and assisted 
by the co-operation of able men, he presents himself, with 
what he accomplished, at least in threefold guise : as a 
metaphysician and the perfecter, if not creator, of formal 
logic ; as an observer of the facts of nature and the institu- 
tions and arts of men ; as a man of encyclopaedic learning. 
These three phases of intellectual effort proportioned each 
other in a mind of universal power and appetition. Yet it 
has been thought that there was more metaphysics and 
formal logic in Aristotle than was good for his natural 

The lost and extant writings which have been ascribed 
to him, embraced a hundred and fifty titles and amounted 
to four hundred books. Those which have been of universal 
influence upon human inquiry suffice to illustrate the scope 
of his labours. There were the treatises upon Logic and 
first among them the Categories or classes of propositions, 
and the De interpretatione on the constituent parts and kinds 
of sentences. These two elementary treatises (the author- 
ship of which has been questioned), were the only Aristotelian 
writings generally used through the West until the latter 
half of the twelfth century, when the remainder of the logical 
treatises became known, to wit, the Prior Analytics, upon 
the syllogism ; the Posterior Analytics upon logical de- 
monstration ; the Topics, or demonstrations having proba- 
bility ; and the Sophistical Elenchi, upon false conclusions 
and their refutation. Together these constitute the Organon 
or complete logical instrument, as it became known to the 


latter half of the twelfth century, and as we possess it 

The Rhetoric follows, not disconnected with the logical 
treatises. Then may be named the Metaphysics, and then 
the writings devoted to Nature, to wit, the Physics, Concern- 
ing the Heavens, Concerning Genesis and Decay, the Meteor- 
ology, the Mechanical Problems, the History oj Animals, the 
Anatomical descriptions, the De anima, the Parts of Animals, 
the Generation of Animals. There was a Botany, which is 
lost. Finally, one names the great works on Ethics, Politics, 
and Poetry. 

Every one is overwhelmed by the compass of the achieve- 
ment of this intellect. As to the transcendent value of the 
works on Logic, Metaphysics, Psychology, Rhetoric, Ethics, 
Politics, and Poetry, the world of scholarship has long been 
practically at one. There is a difference of opinion as to 
the quantity and quality of actual investigation represented 
by the writings on Natural History. But Aristotle is 
commonly regarded as the founder of systematic Zoology. 
On the whole, perhaps one will not err in repeating what 
has been said hundreds of times, that the works ascribed to 
Aristotle, and which undoubtedly were produced by him or 
his co-labourers under his direction, represent the most 
prodigious intellectual achievement ever connected with any 
single name. 

In the school of Aristotle, one phase or another of the 
master's activity would be likely to absorb the student's 
energy and fasten his entire attention. Aristotle's own 
pupil and successor was the admirable Theophrastus, a man 
of comprehensive attainment, who nevertheless devoted 
himself principally to carrying on his master's labours in 
botany, and other branches of natural science. A History 
of Physics was one of the most important of his works. 
Another pupil of Aristotle was Eudemus of Rhodes, who 
became a physicist and a historian of the three sciences of 
Geometry, Arithmetic, and Astronomy. He exhibits the 
learned activities thenceforth to characterize the Peripatetics. 
It would have been difficult to carry further the logic or meta- 
physics of the master. But his work in natural science 
might be supplemented, while the body of his writings offered 



vast field for the labours of the commentator. And so, 
• foot, Peripatetic energies in the succeeding generations 
wer e divided between science and learning, the latter 
centring chiefly in historical and grammatical labours and 
the exposition of the master's writing. 1 

Aristotelianism was not to be the philosophy of the 
closing pre-Christian centuries, any more than it was to be 
the philosophy of the thousand years and more following 
the Crucifixion. During all that time, its logic held its own, 
and a number of its metaphysical principles were absorbed 
in other systems. But Aristotelianism as a system soon 
ceased to be in vogue, and by the sixth century was no 
longer known. 

Yet one might find an echo of its spirit in all men who 
were seeking knowledge from the world of nature, from 
history and humane learning. There were always such ; 
and some famous examples may be drawn even from among 
the practical - minded Romans. One thinks at once of 
Cicero's splendid breadth of humane and literary interest. 
His friend Terentius Varro was a more encyclopaedic 
personality, and an eager student in all fields of knowledge. 
Although not an investigator of nature he wrote on agri- 
culture, on navigation, on geometry, as well as the Latin 
tongue, and on Antiquities, divine and human, even on 
philosophy. 2 

Another lover of knowledge was the elder Pliny, who 
died from venturing too near to observe the eruption which 
destroyed Pompeii. He was an important functionary 
under the emperor Vespasian, just as Varro had held offices 
of authority in the time of the Republic. Pliny's Historia 
naturalis was an astounding compilation, intended to cover 
the whole plain of common and uncommon knowledge. 
The compiler neither observed for himself nor weighed the 
statements of others. His compilation is a happy harbour- 
age for the preposterous as well as reasonable, where the 
traveller's tale of far-off wonders takes its place beside the 
testimony of Aristotle. All is fish that comes to the net 

On these Peripatetics see Zeller, Philosophie der Griechen, 3rd ed. vol. ii. 
pp. 806-946. 

2 See Boissier, Etude sur M. T. Varron (Paris, 1861). 


of the good Pliny, though it be that wonderful piscis, the 
Echinus, which though but a cubit long has such tenacity of 
grip and purpose that it holds fast the largest galley, and 
with the resistance of its fins, renders impotent the efforts 
of a hundred rowers. Fish for Pliny also are all the stories 
of antiquity, of dog-headed, one-legged, big-footed men, of 
the Pigmies and the Cranes, of the Phoenix and the Basilisk. 
He delights in the more intricate causality of nature's 
phenomena, and tells how the bowels of the field-mouse 
increase in number with the days of the moon, and the 
energy of the ant decreases as the orb of Venus wanes. 1 But 
this credulous person was a marvel of curiosity and diligence, 
and we are all his debtors for an acquaintance with the 
hearsay opinions current in the antique world. 

Varro and Pliny were encyclopaedists. Yet before, as 
well as after them, the men possessed by the passion for 
knowledge of the natural world, were frequently devoted to 
some branch of inquiry, rather than encyclopaedic gleaners, 
or universal philosophers. Hippocrates, Socrates's con- 
temporary, had left a name rightly enduring as the greatest 
of physicians. In the third century before Christ Euclid is 
a great mathematician, and Hipparchus and Archimedes 
have place for ever, the one among the great astronomers, 
the other among the great terrestrial physicists. All these 
men represent reflection and theory, as well as investigation 
and experiment. Leaping forward to the second century 
a.d., we find among others two great lovers of science. Galen 
of Pergamos was a worthy follower, if not a peer, of the great 
physician of classic Greece ; and Ptolemy of Alexandria 
emulated the Alexandrian Hipparchus, whose fame he 
revered, and whose labours (with his own) he transmitted to 
posterity. Each of these men may be regarded as advanc- 
ing some portion of the universal plan of Aristotle. 

Another philosophy, Stoicism, had already reached a wide 
acceptance. As for the causes of this, doubtless the decline 
of Greek civic freedom before the third century B.C., had 
tended to throw thoughtful men back upon their inner life ; 
and those who had lost their taste for the popular religion, 
needed a philosophy to live by. Stoicism became especially 

1 Hist, naturalis, ii. 41. 


popular among the Romans. / It was ethics, a philosophy 
of practice rather than of knowledge. The Stoic looked 
out upon the world from the inner fortress of the human 
will. That guarded or rather constituted his well-being. 
He cared for such knowledge, call it instruction rather, 
as would make good the principle that human well-being 
lay in the rightly self-directing will.j He did not seriously 
care for metaphysics, or for knowledge of the natural 
world, save as one or the other subserved the ends of his 
philosophy as a guide of life. CThus the Stoic physics, 
so important a part in the Stoic system, was inspired 
by utilitarian motives and deflected from unprejudiced 
observation by teleological considerations and reflections 
on the dispensations of Providence. \ Of course, some of 
the Stoics show a further range of intellectual interest ; 
Seneca, for example, who was a fine moralist and wrote 
beautiful essays upon the conduct of life. He, like a 
number of other people, composed a book of Quaestiones 
naturales, which was chiefly devoted to the weather, a 
subject always very close to man. But he was not a serious 
meteorologist. For him the interest of the fact lay rather 
in its use or in its moral bearing. After Seneca the Stoic 
interest in fact narrows still further, as with Epictetus and 
Marcus Aurelius. 

Like things might be said of the school of Epicurus, a 
child of different colour, yet birthmate of the Stoa. For in 
that philosophy as in Stoicism, all knowledge beyond ethics 
had a subordinate role. As a Stoic or Epicurean, a man 
was not likely to contribute to the advance of any branch 
of science. Yet habits of eclectic thought and common 
curiosity, or call it love of knowledge, made many nominal 
members of these schools eager students and compilers from 
the works of others. 

We have yet to speak of the system most representative 
of latter-day paganism, and of enormous import for the first 
thousand years of Christian thought. Neo-Platonism was 
the last great creation of Greek philosophy. More specific- 
ally, it was the noblest product of that latter-day paganism 
which was yearning somewhat distractedly, impelled by 
cravings which paganism could neither quench nor satisfy. 


Spirit is ; it is the Real. It makes the body, thereby 
presenting itself in sensible form ; it is not confined by body 
or dependent on body as its cause or necessary ground. In 
many ways men have expressed, and will express hereafter, 
the creative or causal antecedence of the spiritual principle. 
In many ways they have striven to establish this principle 
in God who is Spirit, or in the Absolute One. Many also 
have been the processes of individualization and diverse the 
mediatorial means, through which philosopher, apostle, or 
Church Doctor has tried to bring this principle down to 
man, and conceive him as spirit manifesting an intelligible 
selfhood through the organs of sense. Platonism was a 
beautiful, if elusive, expression of this endeavour, and Neo- 
Platonism a very palpable although darkening statement of 
the same. 

All men, except fools, have their irrational sides. Who 
does not believe what his reason shall labour in vain to 
justify ? Such belief may have its roots spread through 
generalizations broader than any specific rational processes 
of which the man is conscious. And a man is marked by 
the character of his supra-rational convictions, or beliefs or 
credulous conjectures. One thinks how Plato wove and 
coloured his dialectic, and angled with it, after those tran- 
scendencies that he well knew could never be so hooked and 
taken. His conviction — non-dialectical — of the supreme 
and beautiful reality of spirit led him on through all his 
arguments, some of which appear as playful, while others 
are very earnest. 

Less elusive than Plato's was the supra-rationality of his 
distant disciple, the Egyptian Plotinus (died 270), creator of 
Neo-Platonism. With him the supra-rational represented 
an elan, a reaching beyond the clearly seen or clearly known, 
to the Spirit itself. He had a disciple Porphyry, like him- 
self a sage — and yet a different sage. Porphyry's supra- 
rationalities hungered for many things from which his 
rational nature turned askance. But he has a disciple, 
Iamblicus by name, whose rational nature not only ceases 
to protest, but of its free will prostitutes itself in the service 
of unreason. 

The synthetic genius of Plotinus enabled him to weave 


into his system valuable elements from Aristotle and the 
Stoics. But he was above all a Platonist. He presents the 
spiritual triad : the One, the Mind, the Soul. From the 
One comes the Mind, that is, the Nous, which embraces the 
totality of the knowable or intelligible, to wit, the Cosmos 
of Ideas. From that, come the Soul of the World and the 
souls of men. Matter, which is no-thing, gains form and 
partial reality when informed with soul. Plotinus's attitude 
toward knowledge of the concrete natural or historic fact, 
displays a transcendental indifference exceeding that of Plato. 
Perceptible facts with him are but half-real manifestations 
of the informing spirit. They were quite plastic, malleable, 
reducible. Moreover, thoughts of the evil of the multiple 
world of sense held for Plotinus and his followers a bitterness 
of ethical unreality which Plato was too great an Athenian 
to feel. 

Dualistic ethics which find in matter the principle of 
unreality or evil, diminish the human interest in physical 
fact. The ethics of Plotinus consisted in purification and 
detachment from things of sense. This is asceticism. And 
Plotinus was an ascetic, not through endeavour, but from 
contempt. He did not struggle to renounce the world, but 
despised it with the spontaneity of a sublimated tempera- 
ment. He seemed like a man ashamed of being in the 
body, Porphyry says of him. Nor did he wish to cure any 
contemptible bodily ailments, or wash his wretched body. 

Plotinus's Absolute, the First or One, might not be 
grasped by reason. Yet to approach and contemplate It 
was the best for man. Life's crown was the ecstasy of the 
supra-rational and supra-intelligible vision of It. This 
Plotinean irrationality was lofty ; but it was too tran- 
scendent, too difficult, and too unrelated to the human heart, 
to satisfy other men. No fear but that his followers would 
bring it down to the level of their irrational tendencies. 

The borrowed materials of this -philosophy were made by 
its founder into a veritable system. It included, potentially 
at least, the popular beliefs, which, however, interested this 
metaphysical Copt very little. But in those superstitious 
centuries, before as well as after him, these cruder elements 
were gathered and made much of by men of note. There 


was a tendency to contrast the spiritual and real with the 
manifold of material nonentity, and a cognate tendency to 
emphasize the opposition between the spiritual and good, 
and the material and evil, or between opposing spiritual 
principles. With less metaphysical people such opposi- 
tion would take more entrancing shapes in the battles 
of gods and demons. Probably it would cause ascetic 
repression of the physical passions. Both tendencies had 
shown themselves before Plotinus came to build them into 
his system. Friend Plutarch, for instance, of Chaeroneia, 
was a man of pleasant temper and catholic curiosity. His 
philosophy was no great matter. He was gently credulous, 
and interested in anything marvellous and every imaginable 
god and demon. This good Greek was no ascetic, and yet 
had much to say of the strife between the good and evil 
principle. Like thoughts begat asceticism in men of a 
different temperament ; for instance in the once famous 
Apollonius of Tyana and others, who were called Neo- 
Pythagoreans, whatever that meant. Such men had also 
their irrationalities, which perhaps made up the major part 
of their natures. They did indeed belong to those centuries 
when Astrology flourished at the imperial Court, 1 and every 
mode of magic mystery drew its gaping votaries ; when 
men were ravenously drawing toward everything, except the 
plain concrete fact steadily viewed and quietly reasoned on. 

But it was within the schools of Neo-Platonism, in the 
generations after Plotinus, that these tendencies flourished, 
beneath the shelter of his elastic principles. Here three 
kindred currents made a resistless stream : a transcendental, 
fact - compelling dialectic ; unveiled recognition of the 
supreme virtue of supra-rational convictions and experiences; 
and an asceticism which contemned matter and abhorred the 
things of sense. What more was needed to close the faculties 
of observation, befool the reason, and destroy knowledge in 
the end ? 

Porphyry and Iamblicus show the turning of the tide. 
The first of these was a Tyrian, learned, intelligent, austere. 
His life extends from about the year 232 to the year 300. 

1 From the reign of Augustus onward, Astrology flourished as never before. 
See Habler, Astrologie im Alterthum, p. 23 sqq. (Zwickau, 1879). 


His famous Introduction to the Categories of Aristotle was 
a corner-stone of the early mediaeval knowledge of logic. 
He wrote a keenly rational work against the Christians, in 
which his critical acumen pointed out that the Book of 
Daniel was not composed before the reign of Antiochus 
Epiphanes. He did much to render intelligible the writings 
of his master Plotinus, and made a compend of Neo- 
Platonism in the form of Sentences. These survive, as well as 
his work on Abstinence from Eating Flesh, and other treatises, 
allegorical and philosophic. 

He was to Plotinus as Soul, in the Neo-Platonic system, 
was to Mind — Soul which somehow was darkly, passionately 
tangled in the body of which it was the living principle. 
The individual soul of Porphyry wrestled with all the matters 
which the mind of Plotinus made slight account of. Plotinus 
lived aloof in a region of metaphysics warmed with occasional 
ecstasy. Porphyry, willy nilly, was drawn down to life, and 
suffered all the pain of keen mentality when limed and netted 
with the anxieties of common superstitions. He was forever 
groping in a murky atmosphere. He could not clear him- 
self of credulity, deny and argue as he might. Nor could 
asceticism pacify his mind. Philosophically he followed 
Plotinus's teachings, and understood them too, which was a 
marvel. Many of his own, or possibly reflected, thoughts 
are excellent. No Christian could hold a more spiritual 
conception of sacrifice than Porphyry when thinking of the 
worship of the Mind — the Nous or Second God. Offer to 
it silence and chaste thought, which will unite us to it, and 
make us like itself. The perfect sacrifice is to disengage 
the soul from passions. 1 What could be finer ? And again 
says Porphyry : The body is the soul's garment, to be laid 
aside ; the wise man needs only God ; evil spirits have no 
power over a pure soul. But, but, but — at his last statement 
Porphyry's confidence breaks. He is worried because it is 
so hard to know the good from evil demons ; and the latter 
throng the temples, and must be exorcised before the true 
God will appear. This same man had said that God's true 
temple was the wise man's soul ! Alas ! Porphyry's nature 
reeks with contradictions. His letter to the Egyptian priest, 

1 De abstinentia, ii. 34. 


Anebo, consists of sharply-put questions as to the validity 
of any kind of theurgy or divination. How can men know 
anything as to these things ? What reason to suppose that 
this, that, or the other rite — all anxiously enumerated — is 
rightly directed or has effect ? None ! none ! none ! such 
is the answer expected by the questions. 

But Porphyry's own soul answers otherwise. His works 
— the De abstinentia for example — teem with detailed and 
believing discussion of every kind of theurgic practice and 
magic rite, whereby the divine and demonic natures may be 
moved. He believed in oracles and sorcery. Vainly did 
the more keenly intellectual side of his nature seek to hold 
such matters at arm's length ; his other instincts hungered 
for them, craved to touch and taste and handle, as the child 
hankers for what is forbidden. There is angel-lore, but 
far more devil-lore, in Porphyry, and below the earth the 
demons have their realm, and at their head a demon-king. 
Thus organized, these malformed devil-shapes torment the 
lives of men, malignant deceivers, spiteful trippers up, as 
they are. 

Such a man beset by demons (which his intelligence 
declares to have no power over him !), such a man, austere 
and grim, would practise fanatically the asceticism recognized 
so calmly by the system of Plotinus. With Porphyry, 
strenuously, anxiously, the upper grades of virtue become 
violent purification and detachment from things of sense. 
Here he is in grim earnest. 

It is wonderful that this man should have had a critical 
sense of historic fact, as when he saw the comparatively late 
date of the Book of Daniel. He could see the holes in 
others' garments. But save for some such polemic purpose, 
the bare, crude fact interests him little. He is an elaborate 
fashioner of allegory, and would so interpret the fictions of 
the poets. Plotinus, when it suited him, had played with 
myths, like Plato. No such light hand, and scarcely con- 
cealed smile, has Porphyry. As for physical investigations, 
they interest him no more seriously than they did his master, 
and when he touches upon natural fact he is as credulous 
as Pliny. " The Arabians," says he, " understand the speech 
of crows, and the Tyrrhenians that of eagles ; and perhaps 


we and all men would understand all living beings if a 
dragon licked our ears." 1 

These inner conflicts darkened Porphyry's life, and doubt- 
less made some of the motives which were turning his 
thoughts to suicide, when Plotinus showed him that this was 
not the true way of detachment. There was no conflict, 
but complete surrender, and happy abandonment in 
Iamblicus the Divine (0eto?) who when he prayed might be 
lifted ten cubits from the ground — so thought his disciples — 
and around whose theurgic fingers, dabbling in a magic basin 
of water, Cupids played and kissed each other. His life, told 
by the Neo-Platonic biographer, Eunapius, is as full of 
miracle as the contemporary Life of St. Antony by Athana- 
sius. Iamblicus floats before us a beautiful and marvel- 
lously garbed priest, a dweller in the recesses of temples. 
He frankly gave himself to theurgy, convinced that the Soul 
needs the aid of every superhuman being — hero, god, demon, 
angel. 2 He was credulous on principle. It is of first 
importance, he writes, that the devotee should not let the 
marvellous character of an occurrence arouse incredulity 
within him. He needs above all a " science " (iTrio-Trjfn)) 
which shall teach him to disbelieve nothing as to the gods. 3 
For the divine principle is essentially miraculous, and magic 
is the open door, yes, and the way up to it, the anagogic 

All this and more besides is set forth in the De mysteriis, 
the chief composition of his school. It was the answer to 
that doubting letter of Porphyry to Anebo, and contains full 
proof and exposition of the occult art of moving god or 
demon. We all have an inborn knowledge (e/x^uTo? yvcoais) 4 
of the gods. But it is not thought or contemplation that 
unites us to them ; it is the power of the theurgic rite or 
cabalistic word, understood only by the gods. We cannot 
understand the reason of these acts and their effects. 5 

There is no lower depth. Plotinus's reason-surpassing 

1 De abstinentia, iii.' 4. 

2 Porphyry before him had spoken of angels and archangels, which he had 
found in Jewish writings. 

3 For authorities cited, see Zeller, Gesch. der Phil, iii, 2 p. 686. 
* De mysteriis, i. 3. 

6 Ibid. ii. 3, 9. 


vision of the One (which represents in him the principle of 
irrationality) is at last brought down to the irrational act, 
the occult magic deed or word. Truly the worshipper needs 
his best credulity— which is bespoken by Iamblicus and by 
this book. The work seems to argue, somewhat obscurely, 
that the prayer or invocation or rite, does not actually draw 
the god to us, but draws us toward the god, making our 
wills fit to share in his. The writer of such a work is likely 
to be confused in his statement of principles ; but will 
expand more genially when expounding the natures of 
demons, heroes, angels, and gods, and the effect of them 
upon humanity. Perhaps the matter still seems dark ; but 
the picturesque details are bright enough. For the writer 
describes the manifestations and apparitions of these beings 
— their eirifyaveiai and <j>dcrfxaTa. The apparitions of the 
gods are fiovoei&r), simple and uniform : those of the demons 
are irot,Ki\a, that is, various and manifold ; those of the 
angels are more simple than those of the demons, but 
inferior to those of the gods. The archangels in their 
apparitions are more like the gods ; while the dp^ovre^, the 
" governors," have variety and yet order. The gods as they 
appear to men, are radiant with divine effulgence, the arch- 
angels terrible yet kind ; the demons are frightful, producing 
perturbation arid terror — on all of which the work enlarges. 
Speaking more specifically of the effect of these apparitions 
on the thaumaturgist, the writer says that visions of the 
gods bring a mighty power, and divine love and joy in- 
effable ; the archangels bring steadfastness and power of 
will and intellectual contemplation ; the angels bring 
rational wisdom and truth and virtue. But the vision of 
demons brings the desires of sense and the vigour to fulfil 

So low sank Neo-Platonism in pagan circles. Of course 
it did not create this mass of superstitious fantasy. It merely 
accepted it, and over every superstition flung the justi- 
fication of its principles. In the process it changed from a 
philosophy to a system of theurgic practice. The common 
superstitions of the time, or their like, were old enough. 
But now — and here was the portentous fact — they had 
wound themselves into the natures of intellectual people ; 


and Neo-Platonism represents the chief formal facilitation of 
this result. 

A contemporary phenomenon, and perhaps the most 
popular of pagan cults in the third and fourth centuries, was 
the worship of Mithra, around which Neo-Platonism could 
throw its cloak as well as around any other form of pagan 
worship. Mithraism, a partially Hellenized growth from the 
old Mazdaean (even Indo-Iranian) faith, had been carried 
from one boundary of the Empire to the other, by soldiers 
or by merchants who had imbibed its doctrines in the East. 
It shot over the Empire like a flame. A warrior cult, the 
late pagan emperors gave it their adhesion. It was, in fine, 
the pagan Antaeus destined to succumb in the grasp of the 
Christian Hercules. 

With it, or after it, came Manicheism, also from the 
East. This was quite as good a philosophy as the Neo- 
Platonism of Iamblicus. The system called after Manes was 
a crass dualism, containing fantastic and largely borrowed 
speculation as to the world and man. Satan was there and 
all his devils. He was the begetter of mankind, in Adam. 
But Satan himself, in previous struggles with good angels, 
had gained some elements of light ; and these passed into 
Adam's nature. Eve, however, is sensuality. After man's 
engendering, the strife begins between the good and evil 
spirits to control his lot. In ethics, of course, Manicheism 
was dualistic and ascetic, like Neo-Platonism, and also like 
the Christianity of the Eastern and Western Empire. 
Manicheism, unlike Mithraism, was not to succumb, but 
merely to retreat before Christianity. Again and again 
from the East, through the lower confines of the present 
Russia, through Hungary, it made advance. The Bogomiles 
were its children ; likewise the Cathari in the north of Italy, 
and the Albigenses of Provence. 1 

The insistence of the problem of evil and the drift to 
dualism were likewise marked in the Gnostic creeds, which 
consisted chiefly of Persian and Neo-Hellenic elements, but 
were affiliated with Christianity by the yearning for salva- 
tion and drawn to the Christian pale (though not within it) 
by the figure of the Saviour. The appeal of these oriental 

1 Cf. Dollinger, Sektengeschichie. 


cults, speaking generally, was personal rather than civic. 
Careless of the State, they offered to the individual the 
means of purification from the defilements of matter and 
assured him of eternal bliss. 1 

Platonism, Stoicism, Neo-Platonism, Mithraism,Maniche- 
ism, and Gnosticism, these names, taken for simplicity's 
sake, serve to indicate the mind and temper of the educated 
world in which Christianity was spreading. Obviously the 
Christian Fathers' ways of thinking were given by all that 
made up their environment, their education, their second 
natures. They were men of their period, and as Christians 
their intellectual standards did not rise nor their under- 
standing of fact alter, although their approvals and dis- 
approvals might be changed. Their natures might be 
stimulated and uplifted by the Faith and its polemic ardours, 
and yet their manner of approaching and apprehending facts, 
its facts, for example, might continue substantially those of 
their pagan contemporaries or predecessors. 

In the fourth century the leaders of the Church both in 
the East and West were greater men than contemporary 
pagan priests or philosophers or rhetoricians. For the 
strongest minds had enlisted on the Christian side, and a 
great cause inspired their highest energies with an efficient 
purpose. There is no comparison between Athanasius, 
Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa and Chrysostom 
in the East ; Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine in the West ; 
and pagans, like Libanius, the favourite of the Emperor 
Julian, or even Julian himself, or Symmachus, the opponent 
of St. Ambrose in the cause of the pagan Altar of Victory. 
That was a lost cause, and the cause of paganism was 
becoming more and more broken, dissipated, uninspiring. 
Nevertheless, in spite of the superiority of the Christian 
doctors, in spite also of the mighty cause which marshalled 
their endeavours so efficiently, they present, both in their 
higher intelligence and their lower irrationalities, abundant 
likeness to the pagans. 

It has appeared that metaphysical interests absorbed the 
attention of Plotinus, who has nevertheless his supreme 
irrationality atop of all. Porphyry also possessed a strong 

1 See Fr. Cumont, Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism. 


reasoning nature, but was drawn irresistibly to all the things, 
gods, demons, divination and theurgy, of which one half of 
him disapproved. Plotinus, quite in accordance with his 
philosophic principles, has an easy contempt for physical life. 
With Porphyry this has become ardent asceticism. It was 
also remarked that Plotinus' s system was a synthesis of much 
antecedent thought ; and that its receptivity was rendered 
extremely elastic by the Neo-Platonic principle that man's 
ultimate approach to God lay through ecstasy and not 
through reason. Herein, rather latent and not yet sorely 
taxed, was a broad justification of common beliefs and 
practices. To all these Iamblicus gladly opened the door. 
Rather than a philosopher, he was a priest, a thaumaturgist 
and magician. Finally, it is obvious that neither Iamblicus 
nor Porphyry nor Plotinus was primarily or even seriously 
interested in any clear objective knowledge of material facts. 
Plotinus merely noticed them casually in order to illustrate 
his principles, while Iamblicus looked to them for miracles. 

Christianity as well as Neo-Platonism was an expression 
of the principle that life's primordial reality is spirit. And 
likewise with Christians, as with Neo-Platonists, phases of 
irrationality may be observed in ascending and descending 
order. At the summit the sublimest Christian supra- 
rationality, the love of God, uplifts itself. From that height 
the irrational conviction grades down to credulity pre- 
occupied with the demoniacal and miraculous. Fruitful 
comparisons may be drawn between Neo-Platonists and 
Christian doctors. 

Origen (d. 253), like Plotinus of Coptic descent, and 
the most brilliant genius of the Eastern Church, was by some 
fifteen years the senior of the Neo-Platonist. It is not certain 
that either of them directly influenced the other. In 
intellectual power the two were peers. Both were absorbed 
in the higher phases of their thought, but neither excluded 
the more popular beliefs from the system which he was 
occupied in constructing. Plotinus had no mind to shut the 
door against the beliefs of polytheism ; and Origen accepted 
on his part the demons and angels of current Christian 
credence. 1 In fact, he occupied himself with them more 

x See Origen, De principiis, iii. 2. 


than Plotinus did with the gods of the Hellenic pantheon. 
Of course Origen, like every other Christian doctor, had his 
fundamental and saving irrationality in his acceptance of the 
Christian revelation and the risen Christ. This had already 
taken its most drastic form in the credo quia absurdum of 
Tertullian the Latin Father, who was twenty-five years his 
senior. Herein one observes the acceptance of the miracul- 
ous on principle. That the great facts of the Christian creed 
were beyond the proof or disproof of reason was a principle 
definitely accepted by all the Fathers. 

Further, since all Catholic Christians accepted the 
Scriptures as revealed truth, they were obliged to accept 
many things which their reason, unaided, might struggle 
with in vain. Here was a large opportunity, as to which 
Christians would act according to their tempers, in 
emphasizing and amplifying the authoritative or miraculous, 
i.e. irrational, element. And besides, outside even of these 
Scriptural matters and their interpretations, there would be 
the general question of the educated Christian's interest 
in the miraculous. Great mental power and devotion to 
the construction of dogma by no means precluded a lively 
interest in this, as may be seen in that very miraculous life 
of St. Anthony, written probably by Athanasius himself. 
This biography is more preoccupied with the demoniacal 
and miraculous than Porphyry's Life of Plotinus ; indeed 
in this respect it is not outdone by Eunapius's Life of 
Iamblicus. Turning to the Latin West, one may compare 
with them that charming prototypal Vita Sancti, the Life 
of St. Martin by Sulpicius Severus. 1 A glance at these 
writings shows a similarity of interest with Christian and 
Neo-Platonist, and in both is found the same unquestioning 
acceptance of the miraculous. 

Thus one observes how the supernatural manifestation, 
the miraculous event, was admitted and justified on principle 
in both the Neo-Platonic and the Christian system. In 
both, moreover, metaphysical or symbolizing tendencies had 
withdrawn attention from a close scrutiny of any fact, 

1 The Athanasian Vita Antonii is in Migne, Pair. Graec. 26, and trans, in 
Nicene Fathers, second series, iv. The Vita S. Martini is in Halm's ed. of Sulp. 
Severus (Vienna, 1866), and in Migne, Pat. Lot. 20, and trans, in Nicene Fathers, 
second series, xi. 


observed, imagined, or reported. With both, the primary 
value of historical or physical fact lay in its illumination 
of general convictions or accepted principles. And with 
both, the supernatural fact was the fact par excellence, in that 
it was the direct manifestation of the divine or spiritual 

Iamblicus had announced that man must not be in- 
credulous as to superhuman beings and their supernatural 
doings. On the Christian side, there was no bit of popular 
credence in miracle or magic mystery, or any notion as to 
devils, angels, and departed saints, for which justification 
could not be found in the writings of the great Doctors of 
the Church. These learned and intellectual men evince 
different degrees of interest in such matters ; but none 
stands altogether aloof, or denies in toto. No evidence is 
needed here. A broad illustration, however, lies in the 
fact that before the fourth century the chief Christian rites 
had become sacramental mysteries, necessarily miraculous 
in their nature and their efficacy. This was true of Baptism ; 
it was more stupendously true of the Eucharist. Mystically, 
but none the less really, and above all inevitably, the bread 
and wine have miraculously become the body and the 
blood. The process, one may say, began with Origen ; 
with Cyril of Jerusalem it is completed ; Gregory of Nyssa 
regards it as a continuation of the verity of the Incarnation, 
and Chrysostom is with him. 1 One pauses to remark that 
the relationship between the pagan and Christian mysteries 
was not one of causal antecedence so much as one of 
analogous growth. A pollen of terms and concepts blew 
hither and thither, and effected a cross-fertilization of 
vigorously growing plants. The life-sap of the Christian 
mysteries, as with those of Mithra or the Gnostics, was 
the passion for a symbolism of the unknown and the in- 

But one must not stop here. The whole Christian 
Church, as well as Porphyry and Iamblicus, accepted 
angels and devils, and recognized their intervention or 
interference in human affairs. Then displacing the local 

1 See Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, ii. 413 sqq„ especially 432 sqq. Also Taylor, 
Classical Heritage, pp. 94-97. 


pagan divinities come the saints, and Mary above all. They 
are honoured, they are worshipped. Only an Augustine 
has some gentle warning to utter against carrying these 
matters to excess. 

In connection with all this, one may notice an illuminat- 
ing point, or rather motive. In the third and fourth 
centuries the common yearning of the Graeco-Roman world 
was for an approach to God ; it was looking for the anagogic 
path, the way up from man and multiplicity to unity and 
God. An absorbing interest was taken in the means. 
Neo-Platonism, the creature of this time, whatever else 
it was, was mediatorial, a system of mediation between 
man and the Absolute First Principle. Passing halfway 
over from paganism to Christianity, the Celestial Hierarchy 
of Pseudo-Dionysius is also essentially a system of media- 
tion, which has many affinities (as well it might !) with the 
system of Plotinus. 1 Within Catholic Christianity the great 
work of Athanasius was to establish Christ's sole and all- 
sufficient mediation. Catholicism was permanently set upon 
the mediatorship of Christ, God and man, the one God-man 
reconciling the nature which He had veritably, and not 
seemingly, assumed, to the divine substance which He had 
never ceased to be. Athanasius's struggle for this principle 
was bitter and hard-pressed, because within Christianity as 
well as without, men were demanding easier and more 
tangible stages and means of mediation. 

Of such, Catholic Christianity was to recognize a vast 
multitude, perhaps not dogmatically as a necessary part of 
itself ; but practically and universally. Angels, saints, the 
Virgin over all, are mediators between man and God. This 
began to be true at an early period, and was established 
before the fourth century. 2 Moreover, every bit of rite 
and mystery and miracle, as in paganism, so in Catholicism, 
was essentially a means of mediation, a way of bringing 

1 In cap. iii. § 2 of the Celestial Hierarchy, Pseudo-Dionysius says that the 
goal of his system is the becoming like to God and oneness with Him (77 7rp6s debv 
a<t>opi.oL(i)<Tls re ical eVwcns). He classifies his " celestial intelligences " even more 
systematically than the De mysteriis of Iamblicus's school. His work is full of 
Neo-Platonism. Cf. Vacherot, Histoire de Vicole d'Alexandrie, iii. 24 sqq. 

8 The cult of the Virgin and the saints was of very early growth. See Lucius, 
Die Anfdnge des Heiligen Kults in der christlichen Kirche (ed. by Anrich, Tubingen, 


the divine principle to bear on man and his affairs, and so 
of bringing man within the sphere of the divine efficiency. 

Let us make some further Christian comparisons with 
our Neo-Platonic friends Plotinus, Porphyry, and Iamblicus. 
As we have adduced Origen, it would also be easy to find 
other parallels from the Eastern Church. But as the purpose 
is to mark the origin of the intellectual tendencies of the 
Western Middle Ages, we may at once draw examples from 
the Latin Fathers. For their views set the forms of 
mediaeval intellectual interests, and for centuries directed 
and even limited the mediaeval capacity for apprehending 
whatever it was given to the Middle Ages to set themselves 
to know. To pass thus from the East to the West is per- 
missible, since the same pagan cults and modes of thought 
passed from one boundary of the Empire to the other. 
Plotinus himself lived and taught in Rome for the last 
twenty-five years of his life, and there wrote his Enneads 
in Greek. So on the Christian side, the Catholic Church 
throughout the East and West presents a solidarity of 
development, both as to dogma and organization, and also 
as to popular acceptances. 

Let us train our attention upon some points of likeness 
between Plotinus and St. Augustine. The latter's teachings 
contain_m uch Pl atonism ; and with this" greatest of Latin 
Fathers, who did not read much Greek, Platonism was 
inextricably mingled with Neo-Platonism. It is possible to 
search the works of Augustine and discover this, that, or the 
other statement reflecting Plato or Plotinus. 1 Yet their 
most interesting effect on Augustine will not be found in 
Platonic theorems consciously followed or abjured by the 
latter. Platonism was " in the air," at least was in the 
air breathed by an Augustine. He knew little of Plato's 
writings. But Plato had lived : his thoughts had influenced 
many generations, and in their diffusion had been modified, 
and had lost many a specific feature. Thereafter Plotinus 
had constructed Neo-Platonism ; that too had permeated 
the minds of many, itself loosened in the process. These 
views, these phases of thought and mood, were held or felt 

1 See, e.g., Grandgeorge, St. Augustin et le Neoplatonisine (Paris, 1896). Or 
perhaps statements impregnated with the Manicheism which he had abjured. 


by many men, who may not have known their source. 
And Augustine was not only part of all this, but in mind 
and temper was Platonically inclined. I Thus the most 
important elements of Platonism and Neo-Platonism in 
Augustine were his cognate spiritual mood and his attitude 
toward the world of physical fact. ( 

Note thepersonal affinity between Augustine and Plotinus. 
Both are absorbed in the higher pointings of their thought ; 
neither is much occupied with its left-handed relationships, 
which, however, are by no means to be disowned. The 
minds and souls of both are set upon God the Spirit ; the 
minds and eyes of both are closed to the knowledge of 
the natural world. Thus neither Plotinus nor Augustine 
was much affected by the popular beliefs of Christianity 
or paganism. The former cared little for demon-lore or 
divination, and was not seriously touched by polytheism. 
No more was the latter affected by the worship of saints and 
relics, or by other elements of Christian credulity, which 
when brought to his attention pass from his mind as quickly 
as his duties of Christian bishop will permit. 

But it was half otherwise with Porphyry, and altogether 
otherwise with Iamblicus. The first of these was drawn, 
repelled, and tortured by the common superstitions, especially 
the magic and theurgj^ which made men gape ; but Iamblicus 
gladly sported in these mottled currents. On the Christian 
side, Jerome might be compared with them, or a later man, 
the last of the Latin Fathers, Gregory the Great. Clear as 
was the temporal wisdom of this great pope, and heavy as 
were his duties during the troubled times of his pontificate 
(590-604), still his mind was busy with the miraculous and 
diabolic. His mind and temperament have absorbed at least 
the fruitage of prior superstitions, whether Christian or pagan 
need not be decided. He certainly was not influenced by 
Iamblicus. Nor need one look upon these phases of his 
nature as specifically the result of the absorption of pagan 
elements. He and his forbears had but gone the path of 
credulity and mortal blindness, thronged by both pagans and 
Christians. And so in Gregory the tendencies making for 
intellectual obliquity do their perfect work. His religious 
dualism is strident ; his resultant ascetism is extreme ; and 


finally the symbolical, the allegorical, habit has shut his 
mind to the perception of the literal (shall we say, actual) 
meaning, when engaged with Scripture, as his great Com- 
mentary on Job bears witness. The same tendencies, but 
usually in milder type, had shown themselves with Augustine, 
who, in these respects, stands to Gregory as Plotinus to 
Iamblicus. Augustine can push allegory to absurdity ; he 
can be ascetic ; he is dualistic. But all these things have 
not barbarized his mind, as they have Gregory's. 1 Similarly 
the elements, which in Plotinus's personality were held in 
innocuous abeyance, dominated the entire personality of 
Iamblicus and made him a high priest of folly. 

Thus we have observed the phases of thought which set 
the intellectual conditions of the later pagan times, and 
affected the mental processes of the Latin Fathers. The 
matter may be summarized briefly in conclusion. Platonism 
had created an intellectual and intelligible world, wherein a 
dissolving dialectic turned the cognition of material phen- 
omena into a reflection of the mind's ideals. This was more 
palpable in Neo-Platonism than it had been in Plato's system. 
Stoicism on the other hand represented a rule of life, the 
sanction of which was inner peace. Its working principle 
was the rightly directed action of the self-controlling will. 
Fundamentally ethical, it set itself to frame a corresponding 
conception of the universe. Platonism and Neo-Platonism 
found in material facts illustrations or symbols of ideal 
truths and principles of human life. Stoicism was interested 
in them as affording a foundation for ethics. None of these 
systems was seriously interested in facts apart from their 
symbolical exemplification of truth, or their bearing on the 
conduct of life ; and the same principles that affected the 
observation of nature were applied to the interpretation of 
myth, tradition, and history. 

In the opening centuries of the Christian Era the world 
was becoming less self-reliant. It was tending to look to 
authority for its peace of mind. In religion men not only 
sought, as formerly, for superhuman aid, but were reaching 
outward for what their own rational self-control no longer 
gave. They needed not merely to be helped by the gods, 

1 On Gregory, see post, Chapter V. 


but to be sustained and saved. Consequently, prodigious 
interest was taken in the means of bringing man to the 
divine, and obtaining the saving support which the gods 
alone could give. The philosophic thought of the time 
became palpably mediatorial. Neo-Platonism was a system 
of mediation between man and the Absolute First Principle ; 
and soon its lower phases became occupied with such 
palpable means as divination and oracles, magic and 

The human reason has always proved unable to effect 
this mediation between man and God. The higher Neo- 
Platonism presented as the furthest goal a supra-rational and 
ecstatic vision. This was its union with the divine. The 
lower Neo-Platonism turned this lofty supra-rationality into 
a principle of credulity more and more agape for fascinat- 
ing or helpful miracles. Thus a constant looking for divine 
or demonic action became characteristic of the pagan 

The Gospel of Christ, in spreading throughout the pagan 
world, was certain to gather to itself the incidents of its 
apprehension by pagans, and take various forms, one of 
which was to become the dominant or Catholic. Conversely, 
Christians (and we have in mind the educated people) would 
retain their methods of thinking in spite of change in the 
contents of their thought. This would be true even of the 
great and learned Christian leaders, the Fathers of the 
Church. At the same time the Faith reinspired and re- 
directed their energies. Yet (be it repeated for the sake of 
emphasis) their mental processes, their ways of apprehending 
and appreciating facts, would continue those of that paganism 
which in them had changed to Christianity. 

Every phase of intellectual tendency just summarized as 
characteristic of the pagan world, entered the modes in which 
the Fathers of the Latin Church apprehended and built out 
their new religion. First of all, the attitude toward know- 
ledge. No pagan philosophy, not Platonism or any system 
that came after it, had afforded an incentive for concen- 
tration of desire equal to that presented in the person and 
the precepts of Jesus. The desire of the Kingdom of 
Heaven was a master-motive such as no previous idealism had 


offered. It would bring into conformity with itself not only 
all the practical considerations of life, but verily the whole 
human desire to know. First it mastered the mind of 
Tertullian ; and in spite of variance and deviation it endured 
through the Middle Ages as the controlling principle of 
intellectual effort. Its decree was this : the knowledge 
which men need and should desire is that which will help 
them to save and perfect their souls for the Kingdom of 
God. Some would interpret this broadly, others narrowly ; 
some would actually be constrained by it, and others merely 
do it a polite obeisance. But it was acknowledged by well- 
nigh all men, according to their individual tempers and the 
varying times in which they lived. 

Platonism was an idealistic cosmos ; Stoicism a cosmos 
of subjective ethics and teleological conceptions of the 
physical world. The furthest outcome of both might be 
represented by Augustine's cosmos of the soul and God. 
As for reasoning processes, inwardly inspired and then 
applied to the world of nature and history, [Christianity \ 
combined the idealizing, fact-compelling ways of Platonic I 
dialectic with the Stoical interest in moral edification. \ And, 
more utterly than either Platonist or Stoic, the Christian 
Father lacked interest in knowledge of the concrete fact for I 
its own sake. His mental glance was even more oblique 
than theirs, fixed as it was upon the moral or spiritual — 
the anagogic — inference. \Oi course he carried symbolism 
and allegory further than Stoic and Platonist had done, one 
reason being that he was impelled by the specific motive 
of harmonizing the Old Testament with the Gospel, and 
thereby proving the divine mission of Jesus. 

Idealism might tend toward dualistic ethics, and issue in 
asceticism, as was the tendency in Stoicism and the open 
result with Plotinus and his disciples. Such, with mightier 
power and firmer motive, was the outcome of Christian 
ethics, in monasticism. Christianity was not a dualistic 
philosophy ; but neither was Stoicism nor Neo-Platonism. 
Yet, like them, it was burningly dualistic in its warfare 
against the world, the flesh, and the devil. 

We turn to other but connected matters : salvation, 
mediatorship, theory and practice. The need of salvation 


made men Christians ; the God-man was the one and 
sufficient mediator between man and God. Such was the 
high dogma, established with toil and pain. And the 
practice graded downward to mediatorial persons, acts, and 
things, marvellous, manifold, and utterly analogous to their 
pagan kin. The mediatorial persons were the Virgin and 
the saints ; the sacraments were the magic mediatorial acts ; 
the relic was the magic mediatorial thing. And, as with 
Neo-Platonism, there was in Christianity a principle of supra- 
rational belief in all these matters. At the top the revela- 
tion of Christ, and the high love of God which He inspired. 
This was not set on reason, but above it. And, as with 
Neo-Platonism, the supra-rational principle of Christianity 
was led down through conduits of credulity, resembling those 
we have become familiar with in our descent from Plotinus 
to Iamblicus. 



So it was that the intellectual conditions of the Roman 
Empire affected the attitude of the Church Fathers toward 
knowledge, and determined their ways of apprehending fact. 
There was, indeed, scarcely a spiritual tendency or way of 
thinking, in the surrounding paganism, that did not enter 
their mental processes and make part of their understanding 
of Christianity. On the other hand, the militant and 
polemic position of the Church in the Empire furnished new 
interests, opened new fields of effort, and produced new 
modes of intellectual energy. And every element emanating 
from the pagan environment was, on entering the Christian 
pale, reinspired by Christian necessities and brought into a 
working concord with the master-motive of the Faith. 

Salvation was the master Christian motive. The Gospel 
of Christ was a gospel of salvation unto eternal life. It 
presented itself in the self-sacrifice of divine love, not without 
warnings touching its rejection. It was understood and 
accepted according to the capacities of those to whom it was 
offered, capacities which it should reinspire and direct anew, 
and yet not change essentially. The young Christian com- 
munities had to adjust their tempers to the new Faith. 
They also fell under the unconscious need of defining it, in 
order to satisfy their own intelligence and present it in a 
valid form to the minds of men as yet unconverted. Conse- 
quently, the new Gospel of Salvation drew the energies of 
Christian communities to the work of defining that which 
they had accepted, and of establishing its religious and 
rational validity. The intellectual interests of these com- 
munities were first unified by the master-motive of salvation, 



and then ordered and redirected according to the doctrinal 
and polemic exigencies of this new Faith precipitated into 
the Graeco-Roman world. 

The intellectual interests of the Christian Fathers are 
not to be classified under categories of desire to know, for 
the sake of knowledge, but under categories of desire to 
be saved, and to that end possess knowledge in its saving 
forms. Their desire was less to know, than to know how— 
how to be saved and contribute to the salvation of others. 
Their need rightly to understand the Faith, define it and - 
maintain it, was of such drastic power as to force into 
ancillary roles every line of inquiry and intellectual effort. 
This need inspired those central intellectual labours of 
the Fathers which directly made for the Faith's dogmatic 
substantiation and ecclesiastical supremacy ; and then it 
mastered all provinces of education and inquiry which might 
seem to possess independent intellectual interest. They 
were either to be drawn to its support or discredited as 
irrelevant distractions. 

This compelling Christian need did not, in fact, impress 
into its service the total sum of intellectual interests among 
Christians. Mortal curiosity survived, and the love of belles 
lettres. Yet its dominance was real.f The Church Fathers 
were absorbed in the building up of Christian doctrine 
and ecclesiastical authority.^ The productions of Christian 
authorship through the first four centuries were entirely 
religious, so far as the extant works bear witness. This is 
true of both the Greek and the Latin Fathers, and affords a 
prodigious proof that the inspiration and the exigencies of 
the new religion had drawn into one spiritual vortex the 
energies and interests of Christian communities. 

Some of the Fathers have left statements of their 
principles, coupled with more or less intimate accounts of 
their own spiritual attitude. Among the Eastern Christians 
Origen has already been referred to. With him Christianity 
was the sum of knowledge ; and his life's endeavour was 
to realize this view by co-ordinating all worthy forms of 
knowledge within the scheme of salvation through Christ. 
His mind was imbued with a vast desire to know. This he 
did not derive from Christianity. But his understanding of 


Christianity gave him the schematic principle guiding his 
inquiries. His aim was to direct his labours with Christianity 
as an end — reXc/ccos et? ^pia-riavia-fjuov, as he says so preg- 
nantly. He would use Greek philosophy as a propaedeutic 
for Christianity ; he would seek from geometry and astronomy 
what might serve to explain Scripture ; and so with all 
branches of learning. 1 

This was the expression of a mind of prodigious energy. 
For more personal disclosures we may turn at once to the 
Latin Fathers. Hilary, Bishop of Poictiers (d. 367), was a 
foremost Latin polemicist against the Arians in the middle 
of the fourth century. He was born a pagan ; and in the 
introductory book to his chief work, the De Trinitate, he 
tells how he turned, with all his intellect and higher aspira- 
tions, to the Faith. Taking a noble view of human nature, 
he makes bold to say that men usually spurn the sensual 
and material, and yearn for a more worthy life. Thus they 
have reached patience, temperance, and other virtues, be- 
lieving that death is not the end of all. He himself, how- 
ever, did not rest satisfied with the pagan religion or the 
teachings of pagan philosophers ; but he found doctrines to 
his liking in the books of Moses, and then in the Gospel of 
John. It was clear .to him that prophecy led up to the 
revelation of Jesus Christ, and in that at length he gained a 
safe harbour. Thus Hilary explains that his better aspira- 
tions had led him on and upward to the Gospel ; and when 
he had reached that end and unification of spiritual yearning, 
it was but natural that it should thenceforth hold the sum 
of his intellectual interests. 

A like result appears with greater power in Augustine. 
His Confessions give the mode in which his spiritual progress 
presented itself to him some time after he had become 
a Catholic Christian. 2 His whole life sets forth the same 
theme, presenting the religious passion of the man drawing 
into itself his energies and interests. God and the Soul — 
these two would he know, and these alone. But these 
alone indeed ! As if they did not embrace all life pointed 
and updrawn toward its salvation. God was the over- 

1 Epistola ad Gregorium Thanmaturgum. 
2 Cf. Boissier, Fin du paganisme. 


mastering object of intellectual interest and of passionate 
love. All knowledge should direct itself toward knowing 
Him. By grace, within God's light and love, was the Soul, 
knower and lover, expectant of eternal life. Nothing that 
was transient could be its chief good, or its good at all 
except so far as leading on to its chief good of salvation, 
life eternal in and through the Trinity. One may read 
Augustine's self - disclosures or the passages containing 
statements of the ultimate religious principles whereby he 
and all men should live, or one may proceed to examine 
his long life and the vast entire product of his labour. The 
result will be the same. His whole strength will be found 
devoted to the cause of Catholic Church and Faith ; and all 
his intellectual interests will be seen converging to that end. 
He writes nothing save with Catholic religious purpose ; 
and nothing in any of his writings had interest for the 
writer save as it bore upon that central aim. He may be 
engaged in a great work of ultimate Christian doctrine, as 
in his De Trinitate ; he may be involved in controversy 
with Manichean, with Donatist or Pelagian ; he may be 
offering pastoral instruction, as in his many letters ; he may 
survey, as in the Civitas Dei, the whole range of human life 
and human knowledge ; but never does his mind really bear 
away from its master-motive. 

The justification for this centring of human interests 
and energies lay in the nature of the summum bonum for 
man. [According to the principles of the City of God, 
eternal life is the supreme good and eternal death the 
supreme evil. Evidently no temporal satisfaction or 
happiness compares with the eternal. This is good logic ; 
but it is enforced with arguments drawn from the Christian 
temper, which viewed earth as a vale of tears. I The deep 
Catholic pessimism toward mortal life is Augustine's in full 
measure : " Quis enim sufficit quantovis eloquentiae flumine, 
vitae hujus miserias explicare ? " Virtue itself, the best of 
mortal goods, does nothing here on earth but wage perpetual 
war with vices. Though man's life is and must be social, 
how filled is it with distress ! The saints are blessed with 
hope. And mortal good which has not that hope is a false 
joy and a great misery. For it lacks the real blessedness of 


the soul, which is the true wisdom that directs itself to the 
end where God shall be all in all in eternal certitude and 
perfect peace. Here our peace is with God through faith ; 
and yet is rather a solatium miseriae than a gaudium beati- 
tudinis, as it will be hereafter. But the end of those who 
do not belong to the City of God will be miseria sempiterna, 
which is also called the second death, since the soul alienated 
from God cannot be said to live, nor that body be said to 
live which is enduring eternal pains. 1 Augustine devotes a 
whole book, the twenty-first, to an exposition of the sempi- 
ternal, non-purgatorial, punishment of the damned, whom 
the compassionate intercession of the saints will not save, 
nor many other considerations which have been deemed 
eventually saving by the fondly lenient opinions of men. 
His views were as dark as those of Gregory the Great. 
Only imaginative elaboration was needed to expand them 
to the full compass of mediaeval fear. 

Augustine brought all intellectual interests into the 
closure of the Christian Faith, or discredited whatever 
stubbornly remained without. He did the same with ethics. 
For he transformed the virtues into accord with his Catholic 
conception of man's chief good. That must consist in 
cleaving to what is most blessed to cleave to, which is God. 
To Him we can cleave only through dilectio, amor, and 
charitas. Virtue which leads us to the vita beata is nothing 
but summus amor Dei. So he defines the four cardinal 
virtues anew. Temperance is love keeping itself whole and 
incorrupt for God ; fortitude is love easily bearing all things 
for God's sake ; justice is love serving God only, and for 
that reason rightly ruling in the other matters, which are 
subject to man ; and prudence is love well discriminating 
between what helps and what impedes as to God [in deum) . 2 
Conversely, the heathen virtues, as the heathen had in fact 
conceived them, were vices rather than virtues to Augustine. 
For they lacked knowledge of the true God, and therefore 
were affected with fundamental ignorance, and were also 
tainted with pride. 3 Through his unique power of religious 

1 Civ. Dei, xix. caps. 49, 20, 27, 28. 

2 De moribus Ecclesiae, 14, 15 ; cf. Epist. 155, §§ 12, 13. 

3 Civ. Dei, xix. 25. 



perception, Augustine discerned the inconsistency between 
pagan ethics, and the Christian thoughts of divine grace 
moving the humbly and lovingly acceptant soul. 

The treatise on Christian Doctrine clearly expresses 
Augustine's views as to the value of knowledge. He starts, 
in his usual way, from a fundamental principle, which is 
here the distinction between the use of something for a 
purpose and the enjoyment of something in and for itself. 
" To enjoy is to cleave fast in the love of a thing for its 
own sake. But to use is to employ a thing in obtaining 
what one loves." For an illustration he draws upon that 
Christian sentiment which from the first had made the 
Christian feel as a sojourner on earth. 1 

"It is as if we were sojourners unable to live happily away 
from our own country, and we wished to use the means of 
journeying by land and sea to end our misery and return to our 
fatherland, which is to be enjoyed. But the charm of the journey 
or the very movement of the vehicle delighting us, we are taken by 
a froward sweetness and become careless of reaching our own 
country whose sweetness would make us happy. Now if, journey- 
ing through this world, away from God, we wish to return to our 
own land where we may be happy, this world must be used, not 
enjoyed ; that the invisible things of God may be apprehended 
through those created things before our eyes, and we may gain the 
eternal and spiritual from the corporeal and temporal." 

From this illustration Augustine leaps at once to his 
final inference that only the Trinity — Father, Son, and 
Holy Spirit — is to be enjoyed. 2 It follows as a corollary 
that the important knowledge for man is that which will 
bring him to God surely and for eternity. Such is knowledge 
of Holy Writ and its teachings. Other knowledge is valuable 
as it aids us to this. 

Proceeding from this point of view, Augustine speaks 
more specifically. To understand Scripture one needs to 
know the words and also the things referred to. Knowledge 
of the latter is useful, because it sheds light on their 
figurative significance. For example, to know the serpent's 
habit of presenting its whole body to the assailant, in order 

1 See Clement of Rome, Ep. to the Corinthians (a.d. cir. 92), opening passage, 
and notes in Lightfoot's edition. 

2 De doc. Chris, i. 4, 5. 


to protect its head, helps to understand our Lord's command 
to be wise as serpents, and for the sake of our Head, which 
is Christ, present our whole bodies to the persecutors. Again, 
the statement that the serpent rids itself of its skin by 
squeezing through a narrow hole, accords with the Scriptural 
injunction to imitate the serpent's wisdom, and put off the 
old man that we may put on the new, and in a narrow place : 
— Enter ye in at the strait gate, says the Lord. 1 The 
writer gives a rule for deciding whether in any instance a 
literal or figurative interpretation of Scripture should be 
employed, a rule representing a phase of the idealizing way 
of treating facts which began with Plato or before him, and 
through many channels entered the practice of Christian 
doctors. " Whatever in the divine word cannot properly 
be referred to morum honestas or fidei Veritas is to be 
taken figuratively. The first pertains to love of God and 
one's neighbour ; the second to knowing God and one's 
neighbour." 2 

Augustine then refers to matters of human invention, 
like the letters of the alphabet, which are useful to know. 
History also is well, as it helps us to understand Scripture ; 
and a knowledge of physical objects will help us to under- 
stand the Scriptural references. Likewise a moderate know- 
ledge of rhetoric and dialectic enables one the better to under- 
stand and expound Scripture. Some men have made useful 
vocabularies of the Scriptural Hebrew and Syriac words 
and compends of history, which throw light on Scriptural 
questions. So, to save Christians from needless labour, I 
think it would be well if some one would make a general 
description of unknown places, animals, plants and minerals, 
and other things mentioned in Scripture ; and the same 
might be done as to the numbers which Scripture uses. 
These suggestions were curiously prophetic. Christians were 
soon to produce just such compends, as will be seen when 
noticing the labours of Isidore of Seville. 3 Augustine speaks 
sometimes in scorn and sometimes in sorrow of those who 
remain ignorant of God, and learn philosophies, or deem 
that they achieve something great by curiously examining 

1 De doc. Chris, ii. 16. 2 De doc. Chris, iii. cap. 10 sqq. 

3 Post, Chapter V. 


into that universal mass of matter which we call the 
world. 1 

Augustine's word and his example sufficiently attest the 
fact that the Christian Faith constituted the primary intel- 
lectual interest with the Fathers. While not annihilating 
other activities of the mind, this dominant interest lowered 
their dignity by forcing them into a common subservience. 
Exerting its manifold energies in denning and building out 
the Faith, in protecting it from open attack or insidious 
corruption, it drew to its exigencies the whole strength of its 
votaries. There resulted the perfected organization of the 
Catholic Church and the production of a vast doctrinal 
literature. The latter may be characterized as constructive 
of dogma, theoretically interpretative of Scripture, and 
polemically directed against pagans, Jews, heretics or schis- 
matics, as the case might be. 

It was constructive of dogma through the intellectual 
necessity of apprehending the Faith in concepts and modes 
of reasoning accepted as valid by the Graeco-Roman world. 
In the dogmatic treatises emanating from the Hellenic East, 
the concepts and modes of reasoning were those of the later 
phases of Greek philosophy. Prominent examples are the 
De principiis of Origen or the Orationes of Athanasius against 
the Arians. For the Latin West, Tertullian's Adversus 
Marcionem or the treatises of Hilary and Augustine upon 
the Trinity serve for examples.^ The Western writings are 
distinguished from their Eastern kin by the entry of the 
juristic element, filling them with a mass of conceptions from 
the Roman Law. 2 They also develop a more searching 
psychology, j In both of these respects, Tertullian and 
Augustine were the great creators. 

Secondly, this literature, at least in theory, was inter- 
pretative or expository of Scripture. Undoubtedly Origen 
and Athanasius and { Augustine approached the Faith with 
ideas formed from philosophical study and their own 
reflections ; land their metaphysical and allegorical treatment 
of Scripture texts elicited a significance different from the 

1 De moribus Ecclesiae, 21 ; Confessions, v. 7 ; x. 54-57- 

2 See Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, iii. 14 sqq. ; Taylor, Classical Heritage, p. 
117 sqq. 


meaning which we now should draw. ^Yet Christianity was 
an authoritatively revealed religion, and the letter of that 
revelation was Holy Scripture, to wit, the gradually formed 
canon of the Old and New Testaments. \ If the reasoning 
or conclusions which resulted in the Nicene Creed were not 
just what Scripture would seem to suggest, at all events they 
had to be and were confirmed by Scripture, interpreted, to 
be sure, under the stress of controversy and the influence of 
all that had gone into the intellectual natures of the Greek 
and Latin Fathers. And the patristic faculty of doctrinal 
exposition, that is, of reasoning constructively along the lines 
of Scriptural interpretation, was marvellous. Such a writing 
as Augustine's Anti-Pelagian De spiritu et littera is a striking 

Moreover(j;he Faith, which is to say, the Scriptures rightly 
interpreted, contained the sum of knowledge needful for 
salvation, and indeed everything that men should seek to 
know. (Therefore there was no question possessing valid 
claim upon human curiosity which the Scriptures, through 
their interpreters, might not be called upon to answer. For 
example, Augustine feels obliged to solve through Scriptural 
interpretation and inference such an apparently obscure 
question as that of the different degrees of knowledge of God 
possessed by demons and angels. 1 Indeed, many an un- 
answerable question had beset the ways by which Augustine 
himself and other doctors had reached their spiritual harbour- 
age in Catholic Christianity. vThey sought to confirm from 
Scripture their solutions of their own doubts. At all events, 
from Scripture they were obliged to answer other questioners 
seeking instruction or needing refutation. 2 \ 

(Thirdly, it is too well known to require more than a mere 
reminder, that dogmatic treatises commonly were con- 
troversial or polemic, J directed against pagans or Jews, or 
Gnostics or Manicheans, or against Arians or Montanists 

1 Civ. Dei, ix. 21, 22 ; cf. Civ. Dei, xvi. 6-9. 

2 Civ. Dei, book xii, affords a discussion of such questions, e.g. why was man 
created when he was, and not before or afterwards. All these matters entered 
into the discussions of the mediaeval philosophers, Thomas Aquinas, for example. 

Besides these dogmatic treatises, in which Scriptural texts were called upon 
at least for confirmation, the Fathers, Greek and Latin, composed an enormous 
mass of Biblical commentary, chiefly allegorical, following the chapter and verse 
of the canonical writings. 


or Donatists. I Practically all Christian doctrine was of 
militant growth, advancing by argumentative denial and 
then by counter-formulation. ) 

As already noticed at some length, the later phases of 
pagan philosophic inquiry had other motives besides the wish 
for knowledge. These motives were connected with man's 
social welfare or his relations with supernatural powers. The 
Stoical and Epicurean interest in knowledge had a practical 
incentive. And Neo-Platonism was a philosophy of saving 
union with the divine, rather than an open-minded search 
for ultimate knowledge. But no Hellenic or quasi- 
Romanized philosophy so drastically drew all subjects of 
speculation and inquiry within the purview and dominance 
of a single motive at once intellectual and emotional as the 
Christian Faith. 

(Naturally the surviving intellectual ardour of the Graeco- 
Roman world passed into the literature of Christian doctrine. 
For example, the Faith, with its master-motive of salvation, 
drew within its work of militant formulation and pertinent 
discussion that round of intellectual interest and energy 
which had issued in Neo-PlatonismJ Likewise such ethical 
earnestness as had come down through Stoicism was drawn 
within the master Christian energy. And so far as any 
interest survived in zoology, or physics or astronomy, it also 
was absorbed in curious Christian endeavours to educe an 
edifying conformity between the statements or references of 
Scripture and the round of phenomena of the natural world. 
Then history likewise passed from heathenism to the service 
of the Church, and became polemic narrative, or filled itself 
with edifying tales, mostly of miracles. 

In fine, no branch of human inquiry or intellectual 
interest was left unsubjugated by the dominant motives 
of the Faith. First of all, philosophy itself — the general 
inquiry for final knowledge — no longer had an independent 
existence. It had none with Hilary, none with Ambrose, and 
none whatsoever with Augustine after he became a Catholic 
Christian. (Patristic philosophy consisted in the formulation 
of Christian doctrine, which in theory was an eliciting of the 
truth of Scripture. It embodied the substantial results, or 
survivals if one will, of Greek philosophy, so far as it did not 


controvert and discard them, j As for the reasoning process, 
the dialectic whereby such results were reached, as distin- 
guished from the results themselves, that also passed into 
doctrinal writings. The great Christian Fathers were masters 
of it. Augustine recognized it as a proper tool ; but like 
other tools its value was not in itself but in its usefulness. 
As a tool, dialectic, or logic as it has commonly been called, 
was to preserve a distinct, if not independent, existence. 
Aristotle had devoted to it a group of special treatises. 1 
No one had anything to add to this Organon, or Aristotelian 
tool, which was to be preserved in Latin by the Boethian 
translations. 2 No attempt was made to supplant them with 
Christian treatises. 

So it was with elementary education. The grammarians, 
Servius, Priscianus, and probably Donatus, were pagans. 
As far as concerned grammatical and rhetorical studies, the 
Fathers had to admit that the best theory and examples 
were in pagan writings. It also happened that the book 
which was to become the common text-book of the Seven 
Arts was by a pagan, of Neo-Platonic views. This was the 
De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, by Martianus Capella. 3 
Possibly some good Christian of the time could have 
composed a worse book, or at least one somewhat more 
deflected from the natural objects of primary education. 
But the De nuptiis is astonishingly poor and dry. The 
writer was an unintelligent compiler, who took his matter 
not from the original sources, but from compilers before him, 
Varro above all. Capella talks of Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, 
Euclid, Ptolemy ; but if he had ever read them, it was to 
little profit. Book VI., for example, is occupied with 
" Geometria." The first part of it is simply geography ; 
then come nine pages 4 of geometry, consisting of defini- 
tions, with a few axioms ; and then, instead of following 
with theorems, the maid, who personifies " Geometria," 

1 See ante, p. 37. 2 See post, p. 92. 

3 The substance of Capella's book is framed in an allegorical narrative of the 
Marriage of Philology and Mercury. For a nuptial gift, the groom presents the 
bride with seven maid-servants, symbolizing the Seven Liberal Arts — Grammar, 
Rhetoric, Dialectic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy* Music. Cf. Taylor, 
Classical Heritage, etc., p. 49 sqq. 

4 In Eyssenhardt's edition. 


presents as a bridal offering the books of Euclid, amid great 
applause. Had she ever opened them, one queries. Book 
VII., " Arithmetica," is even worse. It begins with the 
current foolishness regarding the virtues and interesting 
qualities of the first ten numbers : " How shall I com- 
memorate thee, O Seven, always to be revered, neither be- 
gotten like the other numbers, nor procreative, a virgin even 
as Minerva ? " Capella never is original. From Pythagoras 
on, the curiosities of numbers had interested the pagan mind. 1 
These fantasies gained new power and application in the 
writings of the Fathers. For them, the numbers used in 
Scripture had prefigurative significance. Such notions came 
to Christianity from its environment, and then took on a new 
apologetic purpose. Here an intellect like Augustine's is no 
whit above its fellows. In arguing from Scripture numbers 
he is at his very obvious worst. 2 Fortunately the coming 
time was to have better treatises, like the De arithmetica of 
Boethius, which was quite free from mysticism. But in 
Boethius's time, as well as before and after him, it was the 
allegorical significance of numbers apologetically pointed 
that aroused deepest interest. 

Astronomy makes one of Capella's seven Artes. His 
eighth book, a rather abject compilation, is devoted to it. 
His matter, of Course, is not yet Christianized. But Chris- 
tianity was to draw Astronomy into its service ; and the 
determination of the date of Easter and other Church 
festivals became the chief end of what survived of astro- 
nomical knowledge. 

( The patristic attitude toward cosmogony and natural 
science plainly appears in the Hexaemeron of St. Ambrose. 3 
This was a commentary on the first chapters of Genesis, or 
rather an argumentative exposition of the Scriptural account 
of the Creation, primarily directed against those who asserted 
that the world was uncreated and eternal. (As one turns 
the leaves of this writing, it becomes clear that the interest 
of Ambrose is always religious, and that his soul is gazing 

1 On the symbolism of Numbers see Cantor, Vorlesungen ilber Ges. der Mathe- 
matik, 2nd ed. pp. 95, 96, 146, 156, 529, 531. 

2 See an extraordinary example taken from the treatise against Faustus, post, 
Chapter XXVIII. Also De dec. Chris, ii. 16 ; De Trinitate, iv. 4-6. 

3 Migne, Pat. Lot. 14, col. 123-273. Written cir. 389. 


beyond the works of the Creation to another world. Physical 
phenomena have no laws for him except the will of God. 

" To discuss the nature and position of the earth," says he, 
" does not help us in our hope of the life to come. It is enough to 
know what Scripture states, ' that He hung up the earth upon 
nothing ' (Job xxvi. 7). Why then argue whether He hung it up 
in air or upon the water, and raise a controversy as to how the 
thin air could sustain the earth ; or why, if upon the waters, the 
earth does not go crashing down to the bottom ? . . . Not 
because the earth is in the middle, as if suspended on even balance, 
but because the majesty of God constrains it by the law of His 
will, does it endure stable upon the unstable and the void." 

The archbishop then explains that God did not fix the 
earth's stability as an artisan would, with compass and level, 
but as the Omnipotent, by the might of His command. If 
we would understand why the earth is unmoved, we must 
not try to measure creation as with a compass, but must look 
to the will of God : " voluntate Dei immobilis manet et stat in 
saeculum terra." And again Ambrose asks, Why argue as 
to the elements which make the heaven ? Why trouble 
oneself with these physical inquiries ? " Sufficeth for our 
salvation, not such disputation, but the verity of the precepts, 
not the acuteness of argument, but the mind's faith, so that 
rather than the creature, we may serve the Creator, who is 
God blessed forever." 1 

Thus with Ambrose, the whole creation springs from the 
immediate working of God's inscrutable will. It is all 
essentially a miracle, like those which He wrought in after 
times to aid or save men : they also were but operations of 
His will. God said Fiat lux, and there was light. Thus 
His will creates ; and nature is His work (opus Dei natura 
est). And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst 
of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters ; 
and it was so. " Hear the word, Fiat. His will is the 
measure of things ; His word ends the work." The division 
of the waters above and beneath the firmament was a work 
of His will, just as He divided the waters of the Red Sea 
before the eyes of the Jews in order that those things might 
be believed which the Jews had not seen. He could have 

1 Hex. i. cap. 6. 


saved them by another means. The fiat of God is nature's 
strength (virtus) and the substance of its endurance 
(diurnitatis substantia) so long as He wishes it to continue 
where He has appointed it. 1 

According to this reasoning, the miracle, except for its 
infrequency, is in the same category with other occurrences. 
Here Ambrose is fully supported by Augustine. With the 
latter, God is the source of all causation : He is the cause of 
usual as well as of extraordinary occurrences, i.e. miracles. 
The exceptional or extraordinary character of certain 
occurrences is what makes them miracles. 2 

Here are fundamental principles of patristic faith. The 
will of God is the one cause of all things. It is unsearch- 
able. But we have been taught much regarding God's love 
and compassionateness, and of His desire to edify and save 
His people. These qualities prompt His actions toward 
them. Therefore we may expect His acts to evince edifying 
and saving purpose. All the narratives of Scripture are for 
our edification. How many mighty saving acts do they 
record, from the Creation, onward through the story of Israel, 
to the birth and resurrection of Christ ! And surely God 
still cares for His people. Nor is there any reason to 
suppose that He has ceased to edify and save them through 
signs and wonders. Shall we not still look for miracles 
from His grace ? 

Thus in the nature of Christianity, as a miraculously 
founded and revealed religion, lay the ground for expecting 
miracles, or, at least, for not deeming them unlikely to occur. 
And from all sides the influences which had been obscuring 
natural knowledge conspired to the same result. We have 
followed those influences in pagan circles from Plato on 
through Neo-Platonism and other systems current in the first 
centuries of the Christian era. We have seen them obliterate 
rational conceptions of nature's processes and destroy the 
interest that impels to unbiassed investigation. The char- 
acter and exigencies of the Faith intensified the operation 
of like tendencies among Christians. Their eyes were lifted 
from the earth. They were not concerned with its transitory 
things, soon to be consumed. Their hope was fixed in the 

1 Hex. ii. caps. 2, 3. a Aug. De Trinitate, iii. 5-9. 


assurance of their Faith ; their minds were set upon its 
confirmation. They and their Faith seemed to have no use 
for a knowledge of earth's phenomena save as bearing 
illustrative or confirmatory testimony to the truth of 
Scripture. Moreover, the militant exigencies of their 
situation made them set excessive store on the miraculous 
foundation and continuing confirmation of their religion. 

For these reasons the eyes of the Fathers were closed to 
the natural world, or at least their vision was affected with 
an obliquity parallel to the needs of doctrine. Any veritable 
physical or natural knowledge rapidly dwindled among them. 
What remained continued to exist because explanatory of 
Scripture and illustrative of spiritual allegories. To such 
an intellectual temper nothing seems impossible, provided it 
accord, or can be interpreted to accord, with doctrines elicited 
from Scripture. Soon there will cease to exist any natural 
knowledge sufficient to distinguish the normal and possible 
from the impossible and miraculous. One may recall how 
little knowledge of the physiology and habits of animals 
was shown in Pliny's Natural History. 1 He had scarcely 
an idea of what was physiologically possible. Personally, 
he may or may not have believed that the bowels of the 
field-mouse increase in number with the waxing of the 
moon ; but he had no sufficiently clear appreciation of the 
causes and relations of natural phenomena to know that 
such an idea was absurd. It was almost an accident, whether 
he believed it or not. It is safe to say that neither Ambrose 
nor Jerome nor Augustine had any clearer understanding of 
such things than Pliny. They had read far less about them, 
and knew less than he. Pliny, at all events, had no motive 
for understanding or presenting natural facts in any other 
way than as he had read or been told about them, or perhaps 
had noticed for himself. Augustine and Ambrose had a 
motive. Their sole interest in natural fact lay in its con- 
firmatory evidence of Scriptural truth. They were con- 
stantly impelled to understand facts in conformity with their 
understanding of Scripture, and to accept or deny accord- 
ingly. Thus Augustine denies the existence of Antipodes, 
men on the opposite side of the earth, who walk with their 

1 Ante, p. 39 sqq. 


feet opposite to our own. 1 That did not harmonize with his 
general conception of Scriptural cosmogony. 

For the result, one can point to a concrete instance which 
is typical of much. In patristic circles the knowledge of the 
animal kingdom came to be represented by the curious book 
called the Physiologus. It was a series of descriptions of 
animals, probably based on stories current in Alexandria, 
and appears to have been put together in Greek early in the 
second century. Internal evidence has led to the supposition 
that it emanated from Gnostic circles. It soon came into 
common use among the Greek and Latin Fathers. Origen 
draws from it by name. In the West, to refer only to the 
fourth and fifth centuries, Ambrose seems to use it constantly, 
Jerome occasionally, and also Augustine. 

Well known as these stories are, one or two examples 
may be given to recall their character : The Lion has three 
characteristics ; as he walks or runs he brushes his footprints 
with his tail, so that the hunters may not track him. This 
signifies the secrecy of the Incarnation — of the Lion of the 
tribe of Judah. Secondly, the Lion sleeps with his eyes 
open ; so slept the body of Christ upon the Cross, while His 
Godhead watched at the right hand of the Father. Thirdly, 
the lioness brings forth her cub dead ; on the third day 
the father comes and roars in its face, and wakes it to life. 
This signifies our Lord's resurrection on the third day. 

The Pelican is distinguished by its love for its young. 
As these begin to grow they strike at their parents' faces, 
and the parents strike back and kill them. Then the 
parents take pity, and on the third day the mother comes 
and opens her side and lets the blood flow on the dead 
young ones, and they become alive again. Thus God cast 
off mankind after the Fall, and delivered them over to 
death ; but He took pity on us, as a mother, for by the 
Crucifixion He awoke us with His blood to eternal life. 

The Unicorn cannot be taken by hunters, because of his 
great strength, but lets himself be captured by a pure 
virgin. So Christ, mightier than the heavenly powers, took 
on humanity in a virgin's womb. 

The Phoenix lives in India, and when five hundred years 

1 Civ. Dei, xvi. 9. 


old fills his wings with fragrant herbs and flies to Heliopolis, 
where he commits himself to the flames in the Temple of the 
Sun. From his ashes comes a worm, which the second day 
becomes a fledgling, and on the third a full-grown phoenix, 
who flies away to his old dwelling-place. The Phoenix is 
the symbol of Christ ; the two wings filled with sweet- 
smelling herbs are the Old and New Testaments, full of 
divine teaching. 1 

These examples illustrate the two general characteristics 
of the accounts in the Physiologus : they have the same 
legendary quality whether the animal is real or fabulous ; 
the subjects are chosen, and the accounts are shaped, by 
doctrinal considerations. Indeed, from the first the Phy- 
siologus seems to have been a selection of those animal 
stories which lent themselves most readily to theological 
application. It would be pointless to distinguish between 
the actual and fabulous in such a book ; nor did the minds 
of the readers make any such distinction. For Ambrose or 
Augustine the importance of the story lay in its doctrinal 
significance, or moral, which was quite careless of the truth 
of facts of which it was the " point." The facts were told as 
introductory argument. 

The interest of the Fathers in physics and natural history 
bears analogy to their interest in history a*nd biography. 
Looking back to classical times, one finds that historians 
were led by other motives than the mere endeavour to 
ascertain and state the facts. The Homeric Epos was the 
literary forerunner of the history which Herodotus wrote of 
the Persian Wars ; and the latter often was less interested 
in the closeness of his facts than in their aptness and 
rhetorical probability. Doubtless he followed legends when 
telling how Greek and Persian spoke or acted. But had not 
legend already sifted the chaff of irrelevancy from the story, 
leaving the grain of convincing fitness, which is also rhetorical 
probability ? Likewise Thucydides, in composing the 

1 For the sources of these accounts see Lauchert, Ges. des Physiologus (Strass- 
burg, 1889), p. 4 sqq. ; also Goldstaub in Philologus, Supplement, Bd. viii. (1901) 
pp. 339-404. The wide use of this work is well known. It was soon translated 
into Ethiopian, Armenian, and Syrian ; into Latin not later than the beginning 
of the fifth century ; and subsequently, of course with many accretions, into the 
various languages of western mediaeval Europe. See Lauchert, o.c. p. 79 sqq. 


History of the Peloponnesian War, that masterpiece of 
reasoned statement, was not over-anxious as to accuracy of 
actual word and fact reported. He carefully inquired regard- 
ing the events, in some of which he had been an actor. Often 
he knew or ascertained what the chief speakers said in those 
dramatic situations which kept arising in this war of neigh- 
bours. Yet, instead of reporting actual words, he gives the 
sentiments which, according to the laws of rhetorical prob- 
ability, they must have uttered. So he presents the 
psychology and turning-point of the matter. 

This was true historical rhetoric ; the historian's art of 
setting forth a situation veritably by presenting its intrinsic 
necessities. Xenophon's Cyropaedia went a step farther ; it 
was a historical romance, which neither followed fact nor 
proceeded according to the necessities of the actual situation. 
But it did proceed according to moral proprieties, and so was 
edifying and plausible. 

The classical Latin practice accorded with the Greek. 
Cicero speaks of history as opus oratorium, that is, a work 
having rhetorical and literary qualities. It should set forth 
the events and situations according to their inherent 
necessities which constitute their rhetorical truth. Then it 
should possess the civic and social qualities of good oratory : 
morals and public utility. These are, in fact, the character- 
istics of the work of Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus. None of 
them troubled himself much over an accuracy of detail 
irrelevant to his larger purpose. Tacitus is interested in 
memorable facts ; he would relate them in such form that 
they might carry their lesson, and bear their part in the 
education of the citizen, for whom it is salutary to study the 
past. He condemns, indeed, the historians of the Empire 
who, under an evil emperor, lie from fear, and, upon his 
death, lie from hate. But such condemnation of immoral 
lying does not forbid the shaping of a story according to 
artistic probability and moral ends. Some shaping and 
adorning of fact might be allowed the historian, acting with 
motives of public policy, or seeking to glorify or defend his 
country. 1 This quite accords with the view of Varro and 
Cicero, that good policy should sometimes outweigh truth : 

1 Cf. Boissier, Tacite (Paris, 1903). 


whether or not the accounts of the gods were true, it was 
well for the people to believe. 

l^Thus the Fathers of the Church were accustomed to a 
historical tradition and practice in which facts were presented 
so as to conduce to worthy ends. Various motives lie back 
of human interest in truth. \ A knowledge of the world's 
origin, of man's creation, destiny, and relationship to God, 
may be sought for its own sake as the highest human good ; 
and yet it may be also sought for the sake of some ulterior 
and, to the seeker, more important end. | With the Christian 
Fathers that more important end was salvation. To obtain 
a saving knowledge was the object of their most strenuous 
inquiries, i Doubtless all men take some pleasure simply in 
knowing ; and, on the other hand, there are few among 
wisdom's most disinterested lovers that have not some 
thought of the connection between knowledge and the other 
goods of human life, to which it may conduce. Yet if 
seekers after knowledge be roughly divided into two classes, 
those who wish to know for the sake of knowing, and those 
who look to another end to which true knowledge is a 
means, then the Fathers of the Church fall in the latter 

If truth be sought for the sake of something else, why may 
it not also be sacrificed ? A work of art is achieved by 
shaping the story for the drama's sake, and if we weave 
fiction to suit the end, why not weave fiction with fact, or, 
still better, see the fact in such guise as to suit the require- 
ments of our purpose ? Many are the aspects and relation- 
ships of any fact ; its actuality is exhaustless. 1 In how 
many ways does a human life present itself ? What 

1 For example, what different truths can one speak afterwards of a social 
dinner of men and women at which he has sat. In the first place, there is the 
hostess, to whom he may say something pleasant and yet true. Then there is 
his congenial friend among the ladies present, to whom he will impart some 
intimate observations, also true. Thirdly, a club friend was at the dinner, and 
his ear shall be the receptacle of remarks on fe min ine traits illustrated by what 
was said and done there. Finally, there is himself, to whom in the watches of 
the night the dinner will present itself in its permanent values as an incident in 
human intercourse, which is so fascinating, so transitory, and so suggestive of 
topics of reflection. Here are four presentations ; and if there was a company of 
twelve, we might multiply four by that number and imagine forty-eight true, 
although inexhaustive, accounts of that dinner which has now joined the fading 
circle of events that are no more. 


narrative could exhaust the actuality and significance of the 
assassination of Julius Caesar ? Indeed, no fact has such 
narrow or compelling singleness of significance or actuality 
that all its truth can be put in any statement ! And again, 
who is it that can draw the line between reality and 
conviction ? 

It is clear that the limited and special interest taken by 
the Church Fathers in physical and historic facts would 
affect their apprehension of them. One may ask what was 
real to Plato in the world of physical phenomena ? At all 
events, Christian Platonists, like Origen or Gregory of 
Nyssa, 1 saw the paramount reality of such phenomena in 
the spiritual ideas implicated and evinced by them. The 
world's reality would thus be resolved into the world's moral 
or spiritual significance, and in that case its truth might be 
educed through moral and allegorical interpretation. Of 
course, such an understanding of reality involves hosts of 
assumptions which were valid in the fourth century, but are 
not commonly accepted now ; and chief among them is this 
very assumption that the deepest meaning of ancient poets, 
and the Scriptures above all, is allegorical. 

This is but a central illustration of what would determine 
the Fathers' conception of the truth of physical events. 
Again : the Creation was a great miracle ; its cause, the 
will of God. The Cause of the Creation was spiritual, 
and spiritual was its purpose, to wit, the edification 
and salvation of God's people ; the building, preservation, 
and final consummation of the City of God. Did not the 
deepest truth of the matter lie in this spiritual cause and 
purpose ? And afterwards to what other end tended all 
human history ? It was one long exemplification of the 
purpose of God through the ways of providence. The 
conception of what constituted a fitting exemplification of 
that purpose would control the choice of facts and shape 
their presentation. Then what was more natural than that 
events should exhibit this purpose, that it might be perceived 
by the people of God ? It would clearly appear in saving 
interpositions or remarkable chronological coincidences. 
Such, even more palpably than the other links in the 

1 On Gregory of Nyssa, see Taylor, Classical Heritage, p. 125 sqq. 


providential chain, were direct manifestations of the will of 
God, and were miraculous because of their extraordinary 
character. History, made anew through these convictions, 
became a demonstration of the truth of Christian doctrine — 
in other words, apologetic. 

The most universal and comprehensive example of this 
was Augustine's City of God, already adverted to. Its 
subject was the ways of God with men. It embraced 
history, philosophy, and religion. It was the final Christian 
apology, and the conclusive proof of Christian doctrine 
adversum paganos. To this end Augustine unites the 
manifold topics which he discusses ; and to this end his 
apparent digressions eventually return, bearing their sheaves 
of corroborative evidence. In no province of inquiry does 
his apologetic purpose appear with clearer power than in 
his treatment of history, profane and sacred. 1 Through 
the centuries the currents of divine purpose are seen to draw 
into their dual course the otherwise pointless eddyings of 
human affairs. Beneath the Providence of God, a revolving 
succession of kingdoms fill out the destinies of the earthly 
Commonwealth of war and rapine, until the red torrents 
are pressed together into the terrestrial greatness of imperial 
Rome. No power of heathen gods effected this result, nor 
all the falsities of pagan philosophy : but the will of the 
one true Christian God. The fortunes of the heavenly City 
are traced through the prefigurative stories of antediluvian 
and patriarchal times, and then on through the prophetic 
history of the chosen people, until the end of prophecy 
appears — Christ and the Catholic Church. 

The Civitas Dei is the crowning example of the drastic 
power with which the Church Fathers conformed the data 
of human understanding into a substantiation of Catholic 
Christianity. 2 At the time of its composition, the Faith 

1 Chiefly in Books III. and XV.-XVIII. 

2 Like the Civitas Dei, the patristic writings devoted exclusively to history 
were all frankly apologetic, yet following different manners according to the 
temper and circumstances of the writer. In the East, at the epoch of the formal 
Christian triumph and the climax of the Arian dispute, lived Eusebius of Caesarea, 
the most famous of the early Church historians. He was learned, careful, capable 
of weighing testimony, and possessed the faculty of presenting salient points. He 
does not dwell overmuch on miracles. His apologetic tendencies appear in his 
method of seeing and stating facts so as to uphold the truth of Christianity. If 



needed advocacy in the world. Alaric entered Rome in 
410 ; and it was to meet the cry of those who would lay 
that catastrophe at the Church's doors that Augustine began 
the Civitas Dei. Soon after, an ardent young Spaniard 
named Orosius came on pilgrimage to the great doctor at 
Hippo, and finding favour in his eyes, was asked to write a 
profane history proving the abundance of calamities which 
had afflicted mankind before the time of Christ. So 
Orosius devoted some years (417-418) to the compilation 
of a universal chronicle, using Latin sources, and calling his 
work Seven Books of Histories " adversum paganos." x Ad- 
dressing Augustine in his prologue, he says : 

" Thou hast commanded me that as against the vain rhetoric 
of those who, aliens to God's Commonwealth, coming from country 
cross-roads and villages are called pagans, because they know 
earthly things, who seek not unto the future and ignore the past, 
yet cry down the present time as filled with evil, just because 
Christ is believed and God is worshipped ; — thou hast commanded 
that I should gather from histories and annals whatever mighty 
ills and miseries and terrors there have been from wars and 
pestilence, from famine, earthquake, and floods, from volcanic 
eruptions, from lightning or from hail, and also from monstrous 
crimes in the past centuries ; and that I should arrange and set 
forth the matter briefly in a book." 

Orosius's story of the four great Empires — Babylonian, 
Macedonian, African, and Roman — makes a red tale of 
carnage. He deemed " that such things should be com- 
memorated, in order that with the secret of God's ineffable 
judgments partly laid open, those stupid murmurers at our 
Christian times should understand that the one God 
ordained the fortunes of Babylon in the beginning, and at 
the end those of Rome ; understand also that it is through 
His clemency that we live, although wretchedly because of 

just then Christianity seemed no longer to demand an advocate, there was place 
for a eulogist, and such was Eusebius in his Church History and fulsome Life of 
Constantine. His Church History is translated by A. C. McGiffert, Library of 
Nicene Fathers, second series, vol. i. (New York, 1890). It was translated into 
Latin by Rufinus, friend and then enemy of St. Jerome. 

1 The best edition is Zangemeister's in the Vienna Corpus scriptorum eccles. 
(1882). Orosius ignores the classic Greek historians, of whom he knew little or 
nothing. Cf. Taylor, Classical Heritage, pp. 219-221. 


our intemperance. Like was the origin of Babylon and 
Rome, and like their power, greatness, and their fortunes 
good and ill ; but unlike their destinies, since Babylon lost 
her kingdom and Rome keeps hers"; and Orosius refers 
to the clemency of the barbarian victors who as Christians 
spared Christians. 1 

At the opening of his seventh book he again presents 
his purpose and conclusions : 

" I think enough evidence has been brought together, to prove 
that the one and true God, made known by the Christian Faith, 
created the world and His creature as He wished, and that He 
has ordered and directed it through many things, of which it has 
not seen the purpose, and has ordained it for one event, declared 
through One ; and likewise has made manifest His power and 
patience by arguments manifold. Whereat, I perceive, straitened 
and anxious minds have stumbled, to think of so much patience 
joined to so great power. For, if He was able to create the world, 
and establish its peace, and impart to it a knowledge of His 
worship and Himself, what was the need of so great and (as they 
say) so hurtful patience, exerted to the end that at last, through 
the errors, slaughters and the toils of men, there should result 
what might rather have arisen in the beginning by His virtue, 
which you preach ? To whom I can truly reply : the human 
race from the beginning was so created and appointed that living 
under religion with peace without labour, by the fruit of obedience 
it might merit eternity ; but it abused the Creator's goodness, 
turned liberty into wilful licence, and through disdain fell into 
forgetfulness ; now the patience of God is just and doubly just, 
operating that this disdain might not wholly ruin those whom 
He wished to spare, who might be reduced through labours ; and 
also so that He might always hold out guidance although to an 
ignorant creature, to whom if penitent He would mercifully restore 
the means of grace." 

Such was the point of view and such the motives of this 
book, which was to be par excellence the source of ancient 
history for the Middle Ages. But, concerned chiefly with 
the Gentile nations, Orosius has few palpable miracles to 
tell. The miracle lies in God's ineffabilis ordinatio of events, 
and especially in marvellous chronological parallels shown 
in the histories of nations, for our edification. Likewise for 
mediaeval men these ineffable chronological correspondences 

1 Hist. ii. 3. 


(which never existed in fact) were to be evidence of God's 
providential guidance of the world. 

Some thirty years after Orosius wrote, a priest of 
Marseilles, Salvian by name, composed a different sort of 
treatise, with a like object of demonstrating the righteous 
validity of God's providential ordering of affairs, especially 
in those troubled times of barbarian invasion through which 
the Empire then was passing. The book declared its purpose 
in its title — De gubematione Dei. 1 Its tenor is further 
elucidated by the title bestowed upon it by a contemporary : 
De praesenti (Dei) judicio. It is famous for the pictures 
(doubtless overwrought) which it gives of the low state of 
morals among the Roman provincials, and of the comparative 
decency of the barbarians. 

These examples sufficiently indicate the broad apologetic 
purpose in the patristic writing of history. There was 
another class of composition, biographical rather than 
historical, the object of which was to give edifying examples 
of the grace of God working in holy men. The reference, 
of course, is to the Vitae sanctorum whose number from the 
fourth century onward becomes legion. They set forth the 
marvellous virtues of anchorites and their miracles. In the 
East, the prime example is the Athanasian Life of Anthony ; 
Jerome also wrote, in Latin, the lives of Anthony's fore- 
runner Paulus and of other saints. But for the Latin West 
the typical example was the Life of St. Martin of Tours, 
most popular of saints, by Sulpicius Severus. 

To dub this class of compositions (and there are classes 
within classes here) uncritical, credulous, intentionally 
untruthful, is not warranted without a preliminary con- 
sideration of their purpose. That in general was to edify ; 
the writer is telling a moral tale, illustrative of God's grace 
in the instances of holy men. But the divine grace is the 
real matter ; the saint's life is but the example. God's 
grace exists ; it operates in this way. As to the illustrative 
details of its operation, why be over-anxious as to their 
correctness ? Only the vita must be interesting, to fix the 
reader's attention, and must be edifying, to improve him. 
These principles exerted sometimes a less, sometimes a 

1 Best edition that of Pauly, in Vienna Corpus scrip, eccles. (1883). 


greater influence ; and accordingly, while perhaps none of 
the vitae is without pious colouring, as a class they range 
from fairly trustworthy biographies to vehicles of edifying 
myth. 1 

Miracles are never lacking. The vita commonly was 
drawn less from personal knowledge than from report or 
tradition. Report grows, passing from mouth to mouth, 
and is enlarged with illustrative incidents. Since no dis- 
belief blocked the acceptance of miracles, their growth out- 
stripped that of the other elements of the story, because they 
interested the most people. Yet there was little originality, 
and the vitae constantly reproduced like incidents. Especi- 
ally, Biblical prototypes were followed, as one sees in the 
Dialogi of Gregory the Great, telling of the career of St. 
Benedict of Nursia. The Pope finds that the great founder 
of western monasticism performed many of the miracles 
ascribed to Scriptural characters. 2 Herein we see the work- 
ing of suggestion and imitation upon a " legend " ; but 
Gregory found rather an additional wonder-striking feature, 
that God not only had wrought miracles through Benedict, 
but in His ineffable wisdom had chosen to conform the saint's 
deeds to the pattern of Scriptural prototypes. And so, in 
the Vitae sanctorum, the joinder of suggestion and the will to 
believe literally worked marvels. 

Usually the Fathers of the Church were as interested 
in miracles as the uneducated laity. Ambrose, the great 
Archbishop of Milan, writes a long letter to his sister 

1 An excellent statement of the nature and classes of the mediaeval Vitae 
sanctorum is " Les Legendes hagiographiques," by Hipp. Delehaye, S.J., in 
Revue des questions historiques, t. 74 (1903), pp. 56-122. An English translation 
of this article has appeared as an independent volume. 

2 At Gregory's statement of the marvellous deeds of Benedict, his interlocutor, 
the Deacon Peter, answers and exclaims : " Wonderful and astonishing is what 
you relate. For in the water brought forth from the rock {i.e. by Benedict) I 
see Moses, in the iron which returned from the bottom of the lake I see Elisha 
(2 Kings vi. 6), in the running upon the water I see Peter, in the obedience of 
the raven I see Elijah (1 Kings xvii. 6), and in his grief for his dead enemy I see 
David (2 Sam. i. n). That man, as I consider him, was full of the spirit of 
all the just " (Gregorius Magnus, Dialogi, ii. 8. Quoted and expanded by Odo 
of Cluny, Migne, Pat. Lat. 133, col. 724). The rest of the second book contains 
other miracles like those told in the Bible. The Life of a later saint may also 
follow earlier monastic types. Francis kisses the wounds of lepers, as Martin 
of Tours had done. See Sulpicius Severus, Vita S. Martini. But often the 
writer of a vita deliberately inserts miracles to make his story edifying, or enhance 
the fame of his hero, perhaps in order to benefit the church where he is interred. 


Marcellina upon finding the relics of certain martyrs, and 
the miracles wrought by this treasure - trove. 1 As for 
Jerome, of course, he is very open-minded, and none too 
careful in his own accounts. His passion for the relics of 
the saints appears in his polemic Contra Vigilantium. What 
interest, either in the writing or the hearing, would men 
have taken in a hermit desert life that was bare of miracles ? 
The desert and the forest solitude have always been full of 
wonders. In Jerome's Lives of Paulus and Hilarion, the 
romantic and picturesque elements consist exclusively in 
the miraculous. And again, how could any one devote 
himself to the cult of an almost contemporary saint or the 
worship of a martyr, and not find abundant miracles ? 
Sulpicius Severus wrote the Vita of St. Martin while the 
saint was still alive ; and there would have been no reason 
for the worship of St. Felix, carried on through years by 
Paulinus of Nola, if Felix's relics had not had saving power. 
It was to this charming tender of the dead, afterwards 
beatified as St. Paulinus of Nola, 2 that Augustine addressed 
his moderating treatise on these matters, entitled De cura 
pro mortuis. He can see no advantage in burying a body 
close to a martyr's tomb unless in order to stimulate the 
prayers of the living. How the martyrs help us surpasses 
my understanding, says the writer ; but it is known that 
they do help. Very few were as critical as the Bishop of 
Hippo ; and all men recognized the efficacy of prayers to 
the martyred saints, and the magic power of their relics. 

Having said so much of the intellectual obliquities of 
the Church Fathers, it were well to dwell a moment on their 
power. Their inspiration was the Christian Faith, working 
within them and bending their strength to its call. Their 
mental energies conformed to their understanding of the 
Faith and their interpretation of its Scriptural presentation. 
Their achievement was Catholic Christianity consisting in 
the union of two complements, ecclesiastical organization 
and the complete and consistent organism of doctrine. 
Here, in fact, two living organisms were united as body and 
soul. Each was fitted to the other, and neither could have 

1 Ambrose, Ep. 22, ad Marcellinam. 
2 On Paulinus of Nola, see Taylor, Classical Heritage, pp. 272-276. 


existed alone. In their union they were to prove unequalled 
in history for coherence and efficiency. Great then was the 
energy and intellectual power of the men who constructed 
Church and doctrine. Great was Paul ; great was Tertullian ; 
great were Origen, Athanasius, and the Greek Gregories. 
Great also were those Latin Fathers of the fourth and fifth 
centuries, Augustine their last and greatest, who finally 
completed Church and doctrine for transmission to the 
Middle Ages — the doctrine, however, destined to be re- 
adjusted as to emphasis, and barbarized in character by him 
whose mind at least is patristically re-creative, but whose 
soul is mediaeval, Gregorius Magnus. 1 

1 As this chapter has been devoted to the intellectual interests of the Fathers, 
it should- be supplemented by a consideration of the emotions and passions 
approved or rejected by them. But this matter may be considered more con- 
veniently in connection with the development of mediaeval emotion, post, 
Chapter XV. 




For the Latin West the creative patristic epoch closes with 
the death of Augustine. There follows a period marked 
by the cessation of intellectual originality. Men are 
engaged upon translations from the Greek ; they are busy 
commenting upon older writings or are expounding with a 
change of emphasis the systematic constructions of their 
predecessors. Epitomes and compendia appear, simplified 
and mechanical abstracts of the bare elements of inherited 
knowledge and current education. Compilations are made, 
put together of excerpts taken unshriven and unshorn into 
the compiler's writing. Knowledge is brought down to 
a more barbaric level. Yet temperament lingers for a 
while, and still appears in the results. 

The representatives of this post -patristic period of 
translation, comment, and compendium, and of re-expression 
with temperamental change of emphasis, are the two con- 
temporaries, Boethius and Cassiodorus ; then Gregory the 
Great, who became pope soon after Cassiodorus closed 
his eyes at the age of ninety or more ; and, lastly, Isidore, 
Archbishop of Seville, who died in 636, twenty-two years 
after Gregory. All these were Latin bred, and belonged 
to the Roman world rather than to those new peoples 
whose barbarism was hastening the disruption of a decadent 
order, but whose recently converted zeal was soon to help 
on the further diffusion of Latin Christianity. They appear 
as transmitters of antique and patristic thought ; because, 
originating little, they put together matter congenial to 
their own lowering intellectual predilections, and therefore 



suitable as mental pabulum for times of mingled decadence 
and barbarism, and also for the following periods of 
mediaeval re-emergence which continued to hark back to 
the obvious and the easy. 

Instead of transmitters, a word indicating function, one 
might call these men intermediaries, and so indicate their 
position as well as role. Both words, however, should be 
taken relatively. For all the Fathers heretofore considered 
were in some sense transmitters or intermediaries, even 
though creative in their work of systematizing, adding to, 
or otherwise transforming their matter. Yet one would not 
dub Augustine a transmitter, because he was far more of 
a remaker or creator. But Gregory the Great will appear 
a dark refashioner ; while Cassiodorus and Isidore are rather 
sheer transmitters or intermediaries, the last-named worthy 
destined to be the most popular of them all, through his 
unerring faculty of selecting for his compilations the foolish 
and the flat. 

Among them, Boethius alone was attached to the 
antique by affinity of sentiment and temper. Although 
doubtless a professing Christian, his sentiments were those 
of pagan philosophy. The De consolatione philosophiae, 
which comes to us as his very self, is a work of eclectic 
pagan moralizing, fused to a personal unity by the author's 
artistic and emotional nature, then deeply stirred by his 
imprisonment and peril. 1 He had enjoyed the favour of 
the great Ostrogoth, Theodoric, ruler of Italy, but now was 
fallen under suspicion, and had been put in prison, where 
he was executed in the year 525 at the age of forty- three. 
His book moves all readers by its controlled and noble 
pathos, rendered more appealing through the romantic 
interest surrounding its composition. It became par 
excellence the mediaeval source of such ethical precept and 
consolation as might be drawn from rational self-control and 
acquiescence in the ways of Providence. But at present 
we are concerned with the range of Boethius's intellectual 
interests and his labours for the transmission of learning. 

1 See E. K. Rand, " On the Composition of Boethius' Con. Phil.," Harvard 
Classical Studies, xv. ; also generally, Manitius, Ges. der lateinischen Lit. des 
Mittclalters, i. 22-36. 


He was an antique-minded man, whose love of knowledge 
did not revolve around " salvation," the patristic focus of 
intellectual effort. Rather he was moved by an ardent 
wish to place before his Latin contemporaries what was 
best in the classic education and philosophy. He is first 
of all a translator from Greek to Latin, and, secondly, a 
helpful commentator on the works which he translates. 

He was little over twenty years of age when he wrote 
his first work, the De arithmetical It was a free transla- 
tion of the Arithmetic of Nichomachus, a Neo-Pythagorean 
who flourished about the year ioo. Boethius's work opens 
with a dedicatory Praefatio to his father-in-law Symmachus. 
In that and in the first chapter he evinces a broad con- 
ception of education, and shows that lovers of wisdom 
should not despise arithmetic, music, geometry and 
astronomy, the fourfold path or quadrivium, a word which 
he may have been the first to use in this sense. 2 With him 
arithmetic treats of quantity in and by itself ; music, of 
quantity related to measure ; geometry, of moveless and 
astronomy of moving quantity. He was a better Greek 
scholar than mathematician ; and his free translation ignores 
some of the finer points of Nichomachus's work, which 
would have impressed one better versed in mathematics. 3 

The young scholar followed up his maiden work with 
a treatise on Music, showing a knowledge of Greek 
harmonics. Then came a De geometria, in which the 
writer draws from Euclid as well as from the practical 
knowledge of Roman surveyors. 4 He composed or trans- 
lated other works on elementary branches of education, 
as appears from a royal letter written by Cassiodorus in 
the name of Theodoric : "In your translations Pythagoras 
the musician, Ptolemy the astronomer, Nichomachus the 
arithmetician, Euclid the geometer are read by Italians, 
while Plato the theologian and Aristotle the logician 
dispute in Roman voice ; and you have given back the 

1 Migne, Pat. Lat. 63, col. 1079-1167. Also edited by Friedlein (Leipsic, 1867). 

2 I know of no earlier employment of the word to designate these four branches 
of study. But one might infer from Boethius's youth at this time that he received 
it from a teacher. 

3 See Cantor, Vorlesungen uber die Ges. der Mathematik, i. 537-540. 

4 See Cantor, o.c. i. 540-551. 


mechanician Archimedes in Latin to the Sicilians." * Making 
all allowance for politeness, this letter indicates the large 
accomplishment of Boethius, who was but twenty -five 
years old when it was written. We turn to the com- 
mentated Aristotelian translations which he now undertook. 2 
" Although the duties of the consular office 3 prevent the 
bestowal of our time upon these studies, it still seems a 
proper part of our care for the Republic to instruct its 
citizens in the learning which is gained by the labours of 
the lamp. Since the valour of a bygone time brought 
dominion over other cities to this one Republic, I shall not 
merit ill of my countrymen if I shall have instructed the 
manners of our State with the arts of Greek wisdom." 4 
These sentences open the second book of Boethius's trans- 
lation of the Categories of Aristotle. His plan of work 
enlarged, apparently, and grew more definite, as the years 
passed, each adding its quota of accomplishment. At all 
events, some time afterwards, when he may have been not 
far from thirty-five, he speaks in the flush of an intellectual 
anticipation which the many years of labour still to be 
counted on seemed to justify : 

" Labour ennobles the human race and completes it with the 
fruits of genius ; but idleness deadens the mind. Not experience, 
but ignorance, of labour turns us from it. For what man who 
has made trial of labour has ever forsaken it ? And the power of 
the mind lies in keeping the mind tense ; to unstring it is to ruin 
it. My fixed intention, if the potent favour of the deity will so 
grant, is (although others have laboured in this field, yet not with 
satisfactory method) to translate into Latin every work of Aris- 
totle that comes to my hand, and furnish it with a Latin com- 
mentary. Thus I may present, well ordered and illustrated with 
the light of comment, whatever subtilty of logic's art, whatever 
weight of moral experience, and whatever insight into natural 
truth, may be gathered from Aristotle. And I mean to translate 
all the dialogues of Plato, or reduce them in my commentary to 

1 Cassiodorus, Ep. variae, i. 45. 

2 Upon the dates of Boethius's writings, see S. Brandt, " Entstehungszeit nnd 
zeitliche Folge der Werke des Boetius," Philologus, Band 62 (N.S. Bd. 16), 1903, 
pp. 141 sqq. and 234 sqq. 

3 Social position, his own abilities, and the favour of Theodoric, obtained the 
consulship for Boethius in 510, when he was twenty-eight or -nine years old. 

4 Migne, Pat. Lat. 64, col. 201. 


a Latin form. Having accomplished this, I shall not have de- 
spised the opinions of Aristotle and Plato if I evoke a certain 
concord between them and show in how many things of import- 
ance for philosophy they agree — if only life and leisure last. 
But now let us return to our subject." * 

One sees a veritable love of intellectual labour and a 
love of the resulting mental increment. It is distinctly the 
antique, not the patristic, attitude towards interests ot the 
mind. In spite of his sixth-century way of writing, and 
the mental fallings away indicated by it, Boethius possessed 
the old pagan spirit, and shows indeed how tastes might 
differ in the sixth century. He never translated the whole 
of Aristotle and Plato ; but he carried out his purpose to the 
extent of rendering into Latin, with abundant comment, the 
entire Organon, that is, all the logical writings of Aristotle. 
First of all, and with elaborate explanation, he rendered 
Porphyry's famous Introduction to the Categories of the 
Master. Then the Categories themselves, likewise with 
abundant explanation. Then Aristotle's De inter pretatione, 
in two editions, the first with simple comment suited to 
beginners, the second with the best elaboration of formal 
logic that he could devise or compile. 2 These elementary 
portions of the Organon, as transmitted in the Boethian 
translations, made the logical discipline of the mediaeval 
schools until the latter part of the twelfth century. He 
translated also Aristotle's Prior and Posterior Analytics, the 
Topics, and the Sophistical Elenchi. But such advanced 
treatises were beyond the requirements of the early mediaeval 
centuries. With the lessening of intellectual energy they 
passed into oblivion, to re-emerge only when called for by 
the livelier mental activities of a later time. 3 

The list of Boethius's: works is not yet exhausted, for 
he wrote some minor logical treatises, and a voluminous 
commentary on Cicero's Topica. He was also the author 
of certain Christian theological tracts, themselves less 
famous than the controversy which long has raged as to 

1 In lib. de interpretatione, ed. sec, Book II., Migne 64, col. 433. 

2 See De inter, ed. pr., I. ; .ed. sec, III. and IV., Migne 64, col. 193, 487, 517. 

3 But it appears that the Latin versions of the Analytics, Topics, and Elenchi 
in Migne 64 are not by Boethius. Grabmann, Ges. der schol. Methode, I., 149 sqq., 
and II., 70 sqq. 


their authorship. 1 They serve to prove his interest in 
Christian controversy as well as in pagan philosophy. 

Boethius's commentaries reproduced the comments of 
other commentators, 2 and he presents merely the logical 
processes of thought. But these, analyzed and tabulated, 
were just the parts of philosophy to be seized by a period 
whose lack of mental originality was rapidly lowering to a 
barbaric frame of mind. The logical works of Boethius 
necessarily presented the method rather than the substance 
of philosophic truth. But their study would exercise the 
mind, and they were peculiarly adapted to serve as discipline 
for the coming centuries, which could not become progressive 
until they had mastered their antique inheritance, including 
this chief method of presenting the elemental forms of 

The " life and leisure " of Boethius were cut off by his 
untimely death. Cassiodorus, although a year or two older, 
outlived him by half a century. He was born at Squillace, 
a Calabrian town which looks out south-easterly over the 
little gulf bearing the same name. His father, grandfather, 
and great-grandfather had been generals and high officials. 
He himself served for forty years under Theodoric and his 
successors, and at last became praetorian praefect, the chief 
office in the Gothic Roman kingdom. 3 Through his birth, 
his education, his long official career, and perhaps his pliancy, 
he belonged to both Goths and Romans, and like the great 
king whom he first served, stood for a policy of reconcile- 
ment and assimilation of the two peoples, and also for 
tolerance as between Arian and Catholic. 

Some years after Theodoric's death, when the Gothic 
kingdom had passed through internecine struggles and 
seemed at last to have fallen before the skill of Belisarius, 
Cassiodorus forsook the troubles of the world. He retired 
to his birthplace Squillace, and there in propitious situations 
founded a pleasant cloister for coenobites and an austerer 

1 See A. Hildebrand, Boethius und seine Stellung zum Christentum (Regens- 
burg, 1885), and works therein referred to. The genuineness of four of these 
tracts seems finally shown by E. K. Rand, " Der dem Boethius zugeschriebene 
Traktat de Fide Catholica" (Fleckeisen's Jahrbuch, 1901). 

2 See Prantl, Ges. der. Logik, i. 679 sqq. 

3 See his Life in Hodgkin's Letters of Cassiodorus ; also Roger, Enseignement 
des lettres classiques d'Ausone d Alcuin, pp. 175-187 (Paris, 1905). 


hermitage for those who would lead lives of arduous 
seclusion. For himself, he chose the former. It was the 
year of grace 540, three years before the death of Benedict 
of Nursia. Cassiodorus was past sixty. In retiring from 
the world he followed the instinct of his time, yet temperately 
and with an increment of wisdom. For he was the first 
influential man to recognize the fitness of the cloister for the 
labours of the pious student and copyist. It is not too 
much to regard him as the inaugurator of the learned, com- 
piling, commenting and transcribing functions of monasti- 
cism. Not only as a patron, but through his own works, he 
was here a leader. His writings composed after his retire- 
ment represent the intellectual interests of western monasti- 
cism in the last half of the sixth century. They indicate the 
round of study proper for monks ; just the grammar, the 
orthography, and other elementary branches which they 
might know ; just the history with which it behoved them 
to be acquainted ; and then, outbulking all the rest, those 
Scriptural studies to which they might well devote their lives 
for the sake of their own and others' souls. 

In passing these writings in review, it is unnecessary to 
pause over the interesting collection of letters — Variae 
epistolae — which were the fruit of Cassiodorus's official 
life, before he shut the convent's outer door against the toils 
of office. He " edited " them near the close of his public 
career. Before that had ended he had made a wretched 
Chronicon, carelessly and none too honestly compiled. He 
had also written his Gothic History, a far better work. 
It survives only in the compend of the ignorant Jordanes, a 
fact the like of which will be found repeatedly recurring in 
the sixth and following centuries, when a barbaric mentality 
continually prefers the compend to the larger and better 
original, which demands greater effort from the reader. A 
little later Cassiodorus composed his De anima, a treatise 
on the nature, qualities, and destinies of the Soul. Although 
made at the request of friends, it indicated the turning of 
the statesman's interest to the matters occupying his latter 
years, during which his literary labours were guided by a 
paternal purpose. One may place it with the works coming 
from his pen in those thirty years of retirement, when study 


and composition were rather stimulated than disturbed by 
care of his convent and estates, the modicum of active 
occupation needed by an old man whose life had been passed 
in the management of State affairs. Its preface sets out the 
topical arrangement in a manner prophetic of scholastic 
methods : 

" Let us first learn why it is called Anima ; secondly, its defini- 
tion ; thirdly, its substantial quality ; fourthly, whether any form 
should be ascribed to it ; fifthly, what are its moral virtues ; 
sixthly, its natural powers (virtutes naturales) by which it holds 
the body together ; seventhly, as to its origin ; eighthly, where is 
its especial seat ; ninthly, as to the body's form ; tenthly, as to 
the properties of the souls of sinners ; eleventhly, as to those of 
the souls of the just ; and twelfthly, as to the resurrection." x 

The short treatise which follows is neither original nor 
penetrating. It closes with an encomium on the number 
twelve, with praise of Christ and with a prayer. 

Soon after Cassiodorus had installed himself in Vivarium, 
as he called his convent, from the fishponds and gardens 
surrounding it, he set himself to work to transcribe the 
Scriptures, and commenced a huge Commentary on the 
Psalms. But he interrupted these undertakings in 543 in 
order to write for his monks a syllabus of their sacred and 
secular education. The title of the work was Institutiones 
divinarum et saecularium Mtterarum. 2 In opening he refers 
to his failure to found a school of Christian teaching at 
Rome, on account of the wars. Partially to repair this want, 
he will compose an introduction to the study of Scripture 
and letters. It will not set out his own opinions, but those 
of former men. Through the expositions of the Fathers we 
ascend to divine Scripture, as by a ladder. The proper 
order is for the " tiros of Christ " first to learn the Psalms, 
and then proceed to study the rest of Scripture in carefully 
corrected codices. When the " soldiers of Christ " have 
completed the reading of Scripture, and fixed it in their 
minds by constant meditation, they will begin to recognize 
passages when cited, and be able to find them. They 
should also know the Latin commentators, and even the 
Greek, who have expounded the various books. 

1 Migne 70, col. 1281. 2 Migne 70, col. 1105-1219. 


The first book of these Institutiones is strictly a guide to 
Scripture study, and in no way a commentary. For example, 
beginning with the " Octateuch," as making up the first 
" codex " of Scripture, Cassiodorus tells what Latin and what 
Greek Fathers have expounded it. He proceeds, briefly, in 
the same way with the rest of the Old and New Testaments. 
He mentions the Ecumenical Councils, which had passed 
upon Christian doctrine, and then refers to the division of 
Scripture by Jerome, by Augustine, and in the Septuagint. 
He states rules for preserving the purity of the text, exclaims 
over its ineffable value, and mentions famous doctrinal works, 
like Augustine's De Trinitate and the De officiis of Ambrose. 
He then recommends the study of Church historians and 
names the great ones, who while incidentally telling of 
secular events have shown that such hung not on chance 
nor on the power of the feeble gods, but solely on the 
Creator's will. Then he shortly characterizes the great 
Latin Doctors, Cyprian, Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, and 
Augustine, and mentions a convenient collection of excerpts 
from the works of the last-named saint, made by a certain 
priest. Next he admonishes the student as to the careful 
reading of Scripture, and suggests convenient abbreviations 
for noting citations. He speaks of the desirability of knowing 
enough cosmography to understand when Scripture speaks of 
countries, towns, mountains, or rivers, and then reverts to the 
need of an acquaintance with the Seven Arts ; this secular 
wisdom, having been originally pilfered from Scripture, 
should now be called back to its true service. Those monks 
who lack intelligence for such studies may properly work in 
the fields and gardens which surround Vivarium (Columella 
and other writers on agriculture are to be found in the 
convent library), and the care of the sick is recommended 
to all. The second book of the Institutiones is a brief 
and unequal compend of the Seven Arts, in which Dialectic 
is treated at greatest length. 

The remaining works of Cassiodorus appear as special 
aids to the student in carrying out the programme of the first 
book of the Institutiones. Such an aid was the bulky Com- 
mentary on the Psalms ; another such was the famous 
Historia tripartita, made of the Church histories of Socrates, 


Sozomen, and Theodoret, translated by a friend of Cassio- 
dorus, and crudely thrown together by himself into one 
narrative. Finally, such another work was the compilation 
upon Latin orthography which the good old man made for 
his monks in his ninety-third year. 

This long and useful life does not display the zeal for 
knowledge for its own sake which marks the labours of 
Boethius. It is the Christian utilitarian view of knowledge 
that Cassiodorus represents, and yet not narrowly, nor with 
a trace of that intolerance of whatever did not bear directly 
on salvation, which is to be found in Gregory. From 
Boethius's love of philosophy, and from the practical interest 
of Cassiodorus in education, it is indeed a change to the 
spiritual anxiousness and fear of hell besetting this great 
pope. 1 

In appreciating a man's opinions and his mental clarity 
or murkiness, one should consider his temperament and the 
temper of his time. Gregory was constrained as well as 
driven by temperamental yearnings and aversions, aggra- 
vated by the humour of the century that produced Benedict 
of Nursia and was contemplating gloomily the Empire's ruin 
and decay, now more acutely borne in upon the consciousness 
of thoughtful people than in the age of Augustine. His 
temper drew from prevailing moods, and in turn impressed 
its spiritual incisiveness upon the influences which it 
absorbed ; and his writings, so expressive of his own 
temperament and all that fed it, were to work mightily 
upon the minds and moods of men to come. 

Born of a distinguished Roman family about the year 
540, he was some thirty-five years old when Cassiodorus 
died. His education was the best that Rome could give. 
In spite of disclaimer on his part, rhetorical training shows 
in the antithetic power of his style ; for example, in that 
resounding sentence in the dedicatory letter prefixed to his 
Moralia, wherein he would seem to be casting grammar to 
the winds. Although quoted until threadbare, it is so 

1 Gregory's works are printed in Migne, Patrologia Latina, 75-79- His epistles 
are also published in the Monumenta Germcmiae historica. On Gregory, his life 
and times, writings and doctrines, see F. H. Dudden, Gregory the Great, etc., 2 vols. 
(Longmans, 1905) ; also E. G. Gardner, The Dialogues of St. Gregory sumamed the 



illustrative as to justify citation : " Nam sicut hujus quoque 
epistolae tenor enunciat, non metacismi collisionem fugio, 
non barbarismi confusionem devito, situs motusque et prae- 
positionum casus servare contemno, quia indignum vehe- 
menter existimo, ut verba coelestis oraculi restringam sub 
regulis Donati." * By no means will he flee the concussion 
of the oft-repeated M, or avoid the confusing barbarism ; he 
will despise the laws of place and case, because he deems it 
utterly unfit to confine the words of the heavenly oracle 
beneath the rules of Donatus. By all of which Gregory 
means that he proposes to write freely, according to the 
needs of his subject, and to disregard the artificial rules of 
the somewhat emptied rhetoric, let us say, of Cassiodorus's 

In his early manhood naturally he was called to take 
part in affairs, and was made Praetor urbanus. But soon 
the prevalent feeling of the difficulty of serving God in the 
world drove him to retirement. His father's palace on the 
Coelian hill he changed to a convent, upon the site of which 
now stands the Church of San Gregorio Magno ; and there 
he became a monk. Passionately he loved the monk's life, 
for which he was to long in vain through most of the years 
to come. Soon he was dragged forth from the companion- 
ship of " Mary " to serve with " Martha." The toiling 
papacy could not allow a man of his abilities to remain 
hidden. He was harnessed to its active service, and sent as 
the papal representative to the Imperial Court at Con- 
stantinople ; whence he returned, after several years, in 585. 
Re-entering his monastery on the Coelian, he became its 
abbot ; but was drawn out again, and made pope by acclama- 
tion and insistency in the year 590. There is no need to 
speak of the efficient and ceaseless activity of this pontiff, 
whose body was never free from pain, nor his soul released 
from longing for seclusion which only the grave was to bring. 

Gregory's mind was less antique, and more barbarous and 
mediaeval than Augustine's, whose doctrine he reproduced 
with garbling changes of tone and emphasis. In the century 
and a half between the two, the Roman institutions had 
broken down, decadence had advanced, and the patristic 

1 Migne, Pat. Lat. J$, col. 516. 


mind had passed from indifference to the laws of physical 
phenomena to something like sheer barbaric ignorance of the 
same. Whatever in Ambrose, Jerome, or Augustine repre- 
sented conviction or opinion, has in Gregory become mental 
habit, spontaneity of acceptance, matter of course. The 
miraculous is with him a frame of mind ; and the allegorical 
method of understanding Scripture is no longer intended, 
not to say wilful, as with Augustine, but has become per- 
sistent unconscious habit. Augustine desired to know God 
and the Soul, and the true Christian doctrine with whatever 
made for its substantiation. He is conscious of closing his 
mind to everything irrelevant to this. Gregory's nature 
has settled itself within this scheme of Christian know- 
ledge which Augustine framed. He has no intellectual 
inclinations reaching out beyond. He is not conscious of 
closing his mind to extraneous knowledge. His mental 
habits and temperament are so perfectly adjusted to the 
confines of this circle, that all beyond has ceased to exist 
for him. 

So with Gregory the patristic limitation of intellectual 
interest, indifference to physical phenomena, and acceptance 
of the miraculous are no longer merely thoughts and opinions 
consciously entertained ; they make part of his nature. 
There was nothing novel in his views regarding knowledge, 
sacred and profane. But there is a turbid force of tempera- 
ment in his expressions. In consequence, his vehement 
words to Bishop Desiderius of Vienne 1 have been so taken 
as to make the great pope a barbarizing idiot. He exclaims 
with horror at the report that the bishop is occupying himself 
teaching grammar ; he is shocked that an episcopal mouth 
should be singing praises of Jove, which are unfit for a lay 
brother to utter. But Gregory is not decrying here, any 
more than in the sentence quoted from the letter prefixed 
to his M or alia, a decent command of Latin. He is merely 
declaring with temperamental vehemence that to teach 
grammar and poetry is not the proper function of a bishop 
— the bishop in this case of a most important see. Gregory 
had no more taste for secular studies than Tertullian four 
centuries before him. For both, however, letters had their 

1 Ep. xi. 54 (Migne 77, col. 1171)- 


handmaidenly function, which they performed effectively in 
the instances of these two great rhetoricians. 1 

It is needless to say that the entire literary labour of 
Gregory was religious. His works, as in time, so in quality, 
are midway between those of Ambrose and Augustine and 
those of the Carolingian rearrangers of patristic opinion. 
Gregory, who laboured chiefly as a commentator upon Scrip- 
ture, was not highly original in his thoughts, yet was no 
mere excerpter of patristic interpretations, like Rabanus 
Maurus or Walafrid Strabo, who belong to the ninth century. 2 
In studying Scripture, he thought and interpreted in alle- 
gories. But he was also a man experienced in life's 
exigencies, and his religious admonishings were wise and 
searching. His prodigious Commentary upon Job has with 
reason been called Gregory's Moralia? And as the moral 
advice and exhortation sprang from Gregory the bishop, so 
the allegorical interpretations largely were his own, or at 
least not borrowed and applied mechanically. 

Gregory represents the patristic mind passing into a more 
barbarous stage. He delighted in miracles, and wrote his 
famous Dialogues on the Lives and Miracles of the Italian 
Saints 4 to solace the cares of his pontificate. The work 
exhibits a naive acceptance of every kind of miracle, and 
presents the supple mediaeval devil in all his deceitful 
metamorphoses. 5 

1 This is the view expressed in the Commentary on Kings ascribed to Gregory, 
but perhaps the work of a later hand. Thus, in the allegorical interpretation of 
i Kings (i Sam.) xiii. 20, " But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to 
sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe." Says the commen- 
tator (Migne, Pat. Lat. 79, col. 356) : We go down to the Philistines when we 
incline the mind to secular studies ; Christian simplicity is upon a height. Secular 
books are said to be in the plane since they have no celestial truths. God put 
secular knowledge in a plane before us that we should use it as a step to ascend 
to the heights of Scripture. So Moses first learned the wisdom of the Egyptians 
that he might be able to understand and expound the divine precepts ; Isaiah, 
most eloquent of the prophets, was nobiliter instructus et urbanus ; and Paul had 
sat at Gamaliel's feet before he was lifted to the height of the third heaven. One 
goes to the Philistines to sharpen his plow, because secular learning is needed 
as a training for Christian preaching. 

2 See post, Chapter X. 

3 Migne 75, 76. 

4 Migne 77, col. 149-430. The second book is devoted to Benedict of 

5 For illustrations see Dudden, o.c. i. 321-366, and ii. 367-68. Gregory's 
interest in the miraculous shows also in his letters. The Empress Constantine 
had written requesting him to send her the head of St. Paul ! He replies (Ep. 


Quite in accord with Gregory's interest in these stories is 
his elaboration of certain points of doctrine, for example, the 
worship of the saints, whose intercession and supererogatory 
righteousness may be turned by prayer and worship to the 
devotee's benefit. Thus he comments upon the eighth verse 
of the twenty-fourth chapter of Job : 

" They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and em- 
brace the rocks as a shelter. The showers of the mountains are 
the words of the doctors. Concerning which mountains it is 
said with the voice of the Church : ' I will lift up my eyes unto the 
hills.' The showers of the mountains water these, for the streams 
of the holy fathers saturate. We receive the ' shelter ' as a 
covering of good works, by which one is covered so that before the 
eyes of omnipotent God the filthiness of his perversity is concealed. 
Wherefore it is written, ' Blessed are those whose iniquities are 
forgiven and whose sins are covered ' (Ps. xxxii. i). And under 
the name of stones whom do we understand except the strong men 
of the Church ? To whom it is said through the first shepherd : 
' Ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house ' (i Peter 
ii. 5). So those who confide in no work of their own, run to the 
protection of the holy martyrs, and press with tears to their sacred 
bodies, pleading to obtain pardon through their intercession." 1 

Another point of Gregorian emphasis : no delict is 
remitted without punishment. 2 To complement which 
principle, Gregory develops the doctrine of penance in its 
three elements, contritio, conversio mentis, satisf actio. Our 
whole life should be one long penitence and penance, and 
baptism of tears ; for our first baptism cannot wash out later 
sins, and cannot be repeated. In the fourth book of the 
Dialogi he develops his cognate doctrine of Purgatory, 3 and 
amplifies upon the situation and character of hell. These 
things are implicit in Augustine and existed before him : 
with Gregory they have become explicit, elaborated, and 

iv. 30, ad Constantinatn Augustam) in a wonderful letter on the terrors of such 
holy relics and their death-striking as well as healing powers, of which he gives 
instances. He says that sometimes he has sent a bit of St. Peter's chain or a few 
filings ; and when people come seeking those filings from the priest in attendance, 
sometimes they readily come off, and again no effort of the file can detach 

1 Moralia xvi. 51 (Migne 75, col. 1151). Cf. Dudden, o.c. ii. 369-373. 

2 Mor. ix. 34, 54 (Migne 75, col. 889). Cf. Dudden, o.c. ii. 419-426. 

3 Dialogi, iv. caps. 39, 55. 


insisted on with recurrent emphasis. Thus Augustinianism 
is altered in form and barbarized. 1 

Gregory is throughout prefigurative of the Middle Ages, 
which he likewise prefigures in his greatness as a sovereign 
bishop and a man of ecclesiastical affairs. He is energetic 
and wise and temperate. The practical wisdom of the 
Catholic Church is in him and in his rightly famed book of 
Pastoral Rule. The temperance and wisdom of his letters 
of instructions to Augustine of Canterbury are admirable. 
The practical exigency seemed always to have the effect of 
tempering any extreme opinion which apart from it he 
might have expressed ; as one sees, for example, in those 
letters to this apostle to the English, or in his letter to 
Serenus, Bishop of Marseilles, who had been too violent as to 
paintings and images. Gregory's stand is moderate and 
reasonable. Likewise he opposes the use of force to convert 
the Jews, although insisting firmly that no Jew may hold a 
Christian slave. 2 

There has been occasion to remark that decadence tends 
to join hands with barbarism on a common intellectual level. 
Had Boethius lived in a greater epoch, he might not have 
been an adapter of an elementary arithmetic and geometry, 
and his best years would not have been devoted to the 
translation and illustration of logical treatises. Undoubtedly 
his labours were needed by the times in which he lived and 
by the centuries which followed them in spirit as well as 
chronologically. He was the principal purveyor of the 
strictly speaking intellectual grist of the early Middle Ages ; 
and it was most apt that the great scholastic controversy as 
to universals should have drawn its initial text from his 
translation of Porphyry's Introduction to the Categories of 
Aristotle. 3 Gregory, on the other hand, was a purveyor of 
theology, the subject to which logic chiefly was to be applied. 
He purveyed matter very much to the mediaeval taste ; 
for example, his wise practical admonishments ; his elabora- 

1 A better Augustinianism speaks in Gregory's letter to Theoctista [Ep. vii. 26), 
in which he says that there are two kinds of " compunction, the one which fears 
eternal punishments, the other which sighs for the heavenly rewards, as the soul 
thirsting after God is stung first by fear and then by love." 

2 Ep. iv. 21 ; vi. 32 ; ix. 6. 

3 See post, Chapter XXXVII. 1. 


tion of such a doctrine as that of penance, so tangible that 
it could be handled, and felt with one's very fingers ; and, 
finally, his supreme intellectual endeavour, the allegorical 
trellising of Scripture, to which the Middle Ages were to 
devote their thoughts, and were to make warm and living 
with the love and yearning of their souls. The converging 
currents — decadence and barbarism — meet and join in 
Gregory's powerful personality. He embodies the intel- 
lectual decadence which has lost all independent wish for 
knowledge and has dropped the whole round of the mind's 
mortal interests ; which has seized upon the near, the 
tangible, and the ominous in theology till it has rooted 
religion in the fear of hell. All this may be viewed as a 
decadent abandonment of the more intellectual and spiritual 
complement to the brute facts of sin, penance, and hell 
barely escaped. But, on the other hand, it was also bar- 
barization, and held the strength of barbaric narrowing of 
motives and the resistlessness of barbaric fear. 

Such were the roles of Boethius and Gregory in the 
transmission of antique and patristic intellectual interests 
into the mediaeval time. Quite different was that of 
Gregory's younger contemporary, Isidore, the princely and 
vastly influential Bishop of Seville, the primary see in that 
land of Spain, which, however it might change dynasties, 
was destined never to be free from some kind of sacerdotal 
bondage. In Isidore's time, the kingdom of the Visigoths 
had recently turned from Arianism to Catholicism, and wore 
its new priestly yoke with ardour. Boethius had provided 
a formal discipline and Gregory much substance already 
mediaevalized. But the whole ground-plan of Isidore's mind 
corresponded with the aptitudes and methods of the Caro- 
lingian period, which was to be the schoolday of the Middle 
Ages. By reason of his own habits of study, by reason of the 
quality of his mind, which led him to select the palpable, the 
foolish, and the mechanically correlated, by reason, in fine, 
of his mental faculties and interests, Isidore gathered and 
arranged in his treatises a conglomerate of knowledge, 
secular and sacred, exactly suited to the coming centuries. 

In drawing from its spiritual heritage, an age takes what 
it cares for ; and if comparatively decadent or barbarized or 


childlike in its intellectual affinities, it will still manage to 
draw what is like itself. In that case, probably it will not 
draw directly from the great sources, but from intermediaries 
who have partially debased them. From these turbid 
compositions the still duller age will continue to select the 
obvious and the worse. This indicates the character of 
Isidore's work. His writings speak for themselves through 
their titles, and are so flat, so transparent, so palpably taken 
from the nearest authorities, that there is no call to analyze 
them. But their titles with some slight indication of their 
contents will show the excerpt character of Isidore's mental 
processes, and illustrate by anticipation the like qualities 
reappearing with the Carolingian doctors. 

Isidore's Quaestiones in vetus Testamentum x is his chief 
work in the nature of a Scripture commentary. It is con- 
fined to those passages of the Old Testament which were 
deemed most pregnant with allegorical meaning. His 
Preface discloses his usual method of procedure : " We have 
taken certain of those incidents of the sacred history which 
were told or done figuratively, and are filled with mystic 
sacraments, and have woven them together in sequence in 
this little work ; and, collecting the opinions of the old 
churchmen, we have made a choice of flowers as from divers 
meadows ; and briefly presenting a few matters from so 
many, with some changes or additions, we offer them not 
only to studious but fastidious readers who detest prolixity." 
Every one may feel assured that he will be reading the 
interpretations of the Fathers, and not those of Isidore — 
" my voice is but their tongue." He states that his sources 
are Origen, Victorinus, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, 
Fulgentius, Cassian, and " Gregory so distinguished for his 
eloquence in our own time." The spirit of the mediaeval 
commentary is in this Preface. The phrase about " culling 
the opinions of the Fathers like flowers from divers meadows," 
will be repeated hundreds of times. Such a commentary is 
a thing of excerpts ; so it rests upon authority. The writer 
thus comforts both his reader and himself ; neither runs the 

1 Migne 83, col. 207-424. No reference need be made, of course, to the 
False Decretals, pseudonymously connected with Isidore's name ; they are later 
than his time. 


peril of originality, and together they repose on the broad 
bosom of the Fathers. 

Throughout his writings, Isidore commonly proceeds in 
this way, whether he says so or not. We may name first 
the casual works which represent separate parcels of his 
encyclopaedic gleanings, and then glance at his putting 
together of them, in his Etymologiae. 1 The muster opens 
with two books of Distinctions {Differ entiarum) . The first 
is concerned with the distinctions of like-sounding and like- 
meaning words. It is alphabetically arranged. The second 
is concerned with the distinctions of things : it begins with 
God and the Creation, and passes to the physical parts and 
spiritual traits of man. No need to say that it contains 
nothing that is Isidore's own. Now come the Allegoriae 
quaedam sacrae Scripturae, which give in chronological order 
the allegorical signification of all the important persons 
mentioned in the Old Testament and the New. It was one 
of the earliest hand-books of Scriptural allegories, and is a 
sheer bit of the Middle Ages in spirit and method. The 
substance, of course, is taken from the Fathers. Next, a 
little work, De ortu et obitu Patrum, states in short para- 
graphs the birthplace, span of life, place of sepulture, and 
noticeable traits of Scriptural personages. 

There follows a collection of brief Isidorean prefaces to 
the books of Scripture. Then comes a curious book, which 
may have been suggested to the writer by the words of 
Augustine himself. This is the Liber numerorum, the book 
of the numbers occurring in the Scriptures. It tells the 
qualities and mystical significance of every number from 
one to sixteen, and of the chief ones between sixteen and 
sixty. These numbers were " most holy and most full of 
mysteries " to Augustine, 2 and Augustine is the man whom 
Isidore chiefly draws on in this treatise — Augustine at his 
very worst. One might search far for an apter instance of 
an ecclesiastical writer elaborately exploiting the most 
foolish statements that could possibly be found in the writings 
of a great predecessor. 

1 The Etymologiae is to be found in vol. 82 of Migne, col. 73-728 ; the other 
works fill vol. 83 of Migne. 

2 Aug. Quaest. in Gen. i. 152. See ante, p. 67. 


Isidore composed a polemic treatise on the Catholic 
Faith against the Jews — De fide Catholica contra Judaeos. 
The good bishop had nothing to add to the patristic dis- 
cussion of this weighty controversy. His book is rilled with 
quotations from Scripture. It put the matter together 
in a way suited to his epoch and the coming centuries, and 
at an early time was translated into the German and other 
vernacular tongues. Three books of Sententiae follow, upon 
the contents of Christian doctrine — as to God, the world, 
evil, the angels, man, Christ and the Church. They consist 
of excerpts from the writings of Gregory the Great and 
earlier Church Fathers. 1 A more original work is the De 
ecclesiasticis officiis, upon the services of the Church and the 
orders of clergy and laity. It presents the liturgical practices 
and ecclesiastical regulations of Isidore's epoch. 

Isidore seems to have put most pious feeling into a work 
called by him Synonyma, to which name was added the 
supplementary designation : De lamentatione animae. First 
the Soul pours out its lament in excruciating iteration, 
repeating the same commonplace of Christian piety in 
synonymous phrases. When its lengthy plaint is ended, 
Reason replies with admonitions synonymously reiterated in 
the same fashion. 2 This work combined a grammatical 
with a pious purpose, and became very popular through its 
doubly edifying nature, and because it strung together so 
many easy commonplaces of Christian piety. Isidore also 
drew up a Regula for monks, and a book on the Order of 
Creation has been ascribed to him. This completes the 
sum of his extant works upon religious topics, from which 
we pass to those of a secular character. 

The first of these is the De rerum natura, written to 

1 Isidore's Books of Sentences present a topical arrangement of matters more 
or less closely pertinent to the Christian Faith, and thus may be regarded as 
a precursor of the Sentences of Peter Lombard (post, Chapter XXXV.). But 
Isidore's work is the merest compilation, and he does not marshal his extracts 
to prove or disprove a set proposition, and show the consensus of authority, like 
the Lombard. His chief source is Gregory's Moralia. Prosper of Aquitaine, a 
younger contemporary and disciple of Augustine, compiled from Augustine's 
works a book of Sentences, a still slighter affair than Isidore's (Migne, Pat. Lot. 
51, col. 427-496). 

2 For example, Reason begins her reply thus : " Quaeso te, anima, obsecro te, 
deprecor te, imploro te, ne quid ultra leviter agas, ne quid inconsulte geras, ne 
temere aliquid facias," etc. (Migne 83, col. 845). 


enlighten his king, Sisebut, " on the scheme (ratio) of the 
days and months, the bounds of the year and the change of 
seasons, the nature of the elements, the courses of the sun 
and moon and stars, and the signs of tempests and winds, 
the position of the earth, and the ebb and flow of the sea." 
Of all of which, continues Isidore, " we have made brief 
note, from the writings of the ancients (veteribus viris), and 
especially those who were of the Catholic Faith. For it is 
not a vain knowledge (superstitiosa scientia) to know the 
nature of these things, if we consider them according to 
sound and sober teaching." x So Isidore compiles a book 
of secular physical knowledge, the substance of which is 
taken from the Hexaemeron of Ambrose and the works of 
other Fathers, and also from the lost Praia of pagan 
Suetonius. 2 

Of course Isidore busied himself also with history. He 
made a dismal universal Chronicon, and perhaps a History 
of the Kings of the Goths, through which stirs a breath of 
national pride ; and after the model of Jerome, he wrote a 
De viris illustrious, concerned with some fifty worthies of 
the Church flourishing between Jerome's time and his own. 

Here we end the somewhat dry enumeration of the 
various works of Isidore outside of his famous " twenty 
books of Etymologies." This work has been aptly styled 
a Konversationslexikon — that excellent German word. It 
was named Etymologiae, because the author always gives 
the etymology of everything which he describes or defines. 
Indeed the tenth book contains only the etymological 
definitions of words alphabetically arranged. These 
etymologies follow the haphazard similarities of the words, 
and often are nonsensical. Sometimes they show a fantastic 
caprice indicating a mind steeped in allegorical interpreta- 
tions, as, for example, when " Amicus is said to be, by 
derivation, animi custos ; also from hamus, that is, chain of 
love, whence we say hami or hooks because they hold." 3 
This is not ignorance so much as fancy. 

The Etymologiae were meant to cover the current know- 

1 De rerum natura, Praefatio (Migne 83, col. 963). 

2 See Prolegomena to Becker's edition. 

3 Migne 82, col. 367. 


ledge of the time, doctrinal as well as secular. But the 
latter predominates, as it would in a Konversationslexikon. 
The general arrangement of the treatise is not alphabetical, 
but topical. To indicate the sources of its contents would 
be difficult as well as tedious. Isidore drew on many 
previous authors and compilers : to Cassiodorus and Boethius 
he went for Rhetoric and Dialectic, and made frequent 
trips to the Prata of Suetonius for natural knowledge — or 
ignorance. In matters of doctrine he draws on the Church 
Fathers ; and for his epitome of jurisprudence in the fifth 
book, upon the Fathers from Tertullian on, and (probably) 
upon some elementary book of legal Institutes. 1 Glancing 

1 See Kiibler, " Isidorus-Studien," Hermes xxv. (1890), 497, 518, and litera- 
ture there cited. 

An analysis of the Etymologies would be out of the question. But the captions 
of the twenty books into which it is divided will indicate the range of Isidore's 
intellectual interests and those of his time : 

I. De grammatica. 

II. De rhetorica et dialectica. 

III. De quatuor disciplines mathematicis. (Thus the first three books contain 
the Trivium and Quadrivium.) 

IV. De medicina. (A brief hand-book of medical terms.) 

V. De legibus et temporibus. (The latter part describes the days, nights, 
weeks, months, years, solstices and equinoxes. It is hard to guess why this was 
put in the same book with Law.) 

VI. De libris et officiis ecclesiasticis. (An account of the books of the Bible 
and the services of the Church.) 

VII. De Deo, angelis et fidelium ordinibits. 

VIII. De ecclesia et sectis diversis. 

IX. De Unguis, gentibus, regnis, etc. (Concerning the various peoples of the 
earth and their languages, and other matters.) 

X. Vocum certarum alphabetum. (An etymological vocabulary of many 
Latin words.) 

XI. De homine et portentis. (The names and definitions of the various parts 
of the human body, the ages of life, and prodigies and monsters.) 

XII. De animalibus. 

XIII. De mundo et partibus. (The universe and its parts — atoms,, elements, 
sky, thunder, winds, waters, etc.) 

XIV. De terra et partibus. (Geographical.) 

XV. De aedificiis et agris. (Cities, their public constructions, houses, temples, 
and the fields.) 

XVI. De lapidibus et metallis. (Stones, metals, and their qualities curious 
and otherwise.) 

XVII. De rebus rusticis. (Trees, herbs, etc.) 

XVIII. De bello et ludis. (On war, weapons, armour ; on public games and 
the theatre.) 

XIX. De navibus, aedificiis et vestibus. (Ships, their parts and equipment ; 
buildings and their decoration ; garments and their ornament.) 

XX. De penu et instrumentis domesticis et rusticis. (On wines and provisions, 
and their stores and receptacles.) 


at the handling of topics in the Etymologies one feels it to 
have been a huge collection of terms and definitions. The 
actual information conveyed is very slight. Isidore is under 
the spell of words. Were they fetishes to him ? did they 
carry moral potency ? At all events the working of his 
mind reflects the long-age dominance of grammar and 
rhetoric in Roman education, which treated other topics 
almost as illustrations of these chief branches. 1 

1 The exaggerated growth of grammatical and rhetorical studies is curiously 
shown by the mass of words invented to indicate the various kinds of tropes and 
figures. See the list in Bede, De schematis (Migne 90, col. 175 sqq.). 



The Latinizing of northern Italy, Spain, and Gaul was 
part of the expansion of Roman dominion. Throughout 
these lands, alien peoples submitted to the Roman order 
and acquired new traits from the training of its discipline. 
Voluntarily or under compulsion they exchanged their 
institutions and customs for those of Roman Italy, and their 
native tongues for Latin. The education and culture of the 
upper classes became identical with that gained in the 
schools about the Forum, and Roman literature was the 
literature which they studied and produced. In a greater 
or less degree their characters were Latinized, while their 
traditions were abandoned for those of Rome. Yet, although 
Romanized and Latinized, these peoples were not Roman. 
Their culture was acquired, their characters were changed, 
yet with old traits surviving. In character and faculties, as 
in geographical position, they were intermediate, and in role 
they were mediatorial. Much of what they had received, 
and what they had themselves become, they perforce trans- 
mitted to the ruder humanity which, as the Empire weakened, 
pressed in, serving, plundering, murdering, and finally amal- 
gamating with these provincials. The surviving Latin 
culture passed to the mingled populations which were 
turning to inchoate Romance nations in Italy, Spain, 
and Gaul. Likewise Christianity, Romanized, paganized, 
barbarized, had been accepted through these countries. 
And now these mingled peoples, these inchoate Romance 
nations, were to accomplish a broader mediation in extending 

1 Cf. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, 8 vols. ; Villari, The Barbarian Invasions 
of Italy, z vols. 



the rudiments of Latin culture, along with the great new 
Religion, to the barbarous peoples beyond the Romance 

The mediating roles of the Roman provincials began 
with their first subjection to Roman order. For barbarians 
were continually brought into the provinces as slaves or 
prisoners of war. Next, they entered to serve as auxiliary 
troops, coming especially from the wavering Teutonic out- 
skirts of the Empire. And during that time of misrule and 
military anarchy which came between the death of 
Commodus (a.d. 192) and the accession of Diocletian (a.d. 
284), Teutonic inroads threatened the imperial fabric. But, 
apart from palpable invasions, there was a constant increase 
in the Teutonic inflow from the close of the second century. 
More and more the Teutons tilled the fields ; more and more 
they filled the armies. They became officers of the army and 
officials of the Government. So long as the vigour of life 
and growth continued in the Latinized population of the 
Empire, and so long as the Roman law and order held, the 
assimilative power of Latin culture and Roman institutions 
was enormous ; the barbarians became Romanized. But 
when self-conserving strength and coercive energy waned 
with Romans and provincials, when the law's protection was 
no longer sure, and a dry rot infected civic institutions, then 
Roman civilization lost some of its transforming virtue. The 
barbarism of the Teutonic influx became more obstinate as 
the transmuting forces of civilization weakened. Evidently 
the decadent civilization of the Empire could no longer 
raise these barbarians to the level of its greater periods ; it 
could at most impress them with such culture and such order 
as it still possessed. Moreover, reacting upon these dis- 
turbed and infirm conditions, barbarism put forth a positive 
transforming energy, tending to barbarize the Empire, its 
government, its army, its inhabitants. The decay of Roman 
institutions and the grafting of Teutonic institutions upon 
Roman survivals were as universal as the mingling of races, 
tempers, and traditions. The course of events may briefly 
be reviewed. 

In the third century the Goths began, by land and sea, 
to raid the eastern provinces of the undivided Roman 


Empire ; down the Danube they sailed, and out upon the 
Euxine ; then their plundering fleets spread through the 
eastern Mediterranean. They were attacked, repulsed, over- 
thrown, and slaughtered in hordes in the year 270. Some 
of the survivors remained in bondage, some retired north 
beyond the Danube. Aurelian gave up to them the province 
of Dacia, the latest conquest of the Empire, the first to be 
abandoned. These Dacian settlers thenceforth appear as 
Visigoths. For a century the Empire had no great trouble 
from them. Dacia was the scene of the career of Ulfilas 
(b. 311, d. 380), the Arian apostle of the Goths. They 
became Christian in part, and in part remained fiercely 
heathen. About 372, harassed by the Huns, they pressed 
south to escape over the Danube. Valens permitted them 
to cross ; then Roman treachery followed, answered by 
desperate Gothic raids in Thrace, till at last Valens was 
defeated and slain at Hadrianople in 378. 

It was sixteen years after this that Theodosius the Great 
marched from the East to Italy to suppress Arbogast, the 
overweening Frank, who had cast out his weak master 
Valentinian. The leader of the Visigothic auxiliaries was 
Alaric. When the great emperor died, Alaric was pro- 
claimed King of the Visigoths, and soon proceeded to ravage 
and conquer Greece. Stilicho, son of a Vandal chief — one 
sees how all the high officers are Teutons — was the uncertain 
stay of Theodosius's weakling sons, Honorius and Arcadius. 
In 400 Alaric attempted to invade Italy, but was foiled by 
Stilicho, who five years later circumvented and destroyed 
another horde of Goths, both men and women, who had 
penetrated Italy to the Apennines. In 408 Alaric made a 
second attempt to enter, and this time was successful, for 
Stilicho was dead. Thrice he besieged Rome, capturing it 
in 410. Then he died, his quick death to be a warning to 
Attila. The new Gothic king, Ataulf, conceived the plan 
of uniting Romans and Goths in a renewed and strengthened 
kingdom. But this task was not for him, and in two years 
he left Italy with his Visigoths to establish a kingdom in 
the south of Gaul. 

Attila comes next upon the scene. The eastern Empire 
had endured the oppression of this terrible Turanian, and 


had paid him tribute for some years, before he decided to 
march westward by a route north of the Alps, and attack 
Gaul. He penetrated to Orleans, which he besieged in vain. 
Many nations were in the two armies that were now to 
meet in battle on the " Catalaunian Plains." On Attila's 
side, besides his Huns, were subject Franks, Bructeri, 
Thuringians, Burgundians, and the hosts of Gepidae and 
Ostrogoths. Opposed were the Roman forces, Bretons, 
Burgundians, Alans, Saxons, Salian Franks, and the army of 
the Visigoths. Defeated, but not overthrown, the lion Hun 
withdrew across the Rhine ; but the next spring, in 452, he 
descended from the eastern Alps upon Aquileia and destroyed 
it, and next sacked the cities of Venetia and the Po Valley 
as far as Milan. Then he passed eastward to the river 
Mincio, where he was met by a Roman embassy, in which 
Pope Leo was the most imposing figure. Before this 
embassy the Scourge of God withdrew, awed or persuaded, 
or in superstitious fear. The following year, upon Attila's 
death, his realm broke up ; Gepidae and Goths beat the 
Huns in battle, and again Teutons held sway in Central 

The fear of the Hun had hardly ceased when the Vandals 
came from Africa, and leisurely plundered Rome. They 
were Teutons, perhaps kin to the Goths. But theirs had 
been a far migration. At the opening of the fifth century 
they had entered Gaul and fought the Franks, then passed 
on to Spain, where they were broken by the Visigoths. So 
they crossed to Africa and founded a kingdom there, whence 
they invaded Italy. By this time, the middle of the fifth 
century, the fighting and ruling energy in the western 
Empire was barbarian. The stocks had become mixed 
through intermarriage and the confusion of wars and 
frequent change of sides. An illustrative figure is Count 
Ricimer, whose father was a noble Suevian, while his mother 
was a Visigothic princess. He directed the Roman State 
from 456 to 472, placing one after another of his Roman 
puppets on the imperial throne. 

In the famous year 476 the Roman army was made up 
of barbarians, mainly drawn from lands now included in 
Bohemia, Austria, and Hungary. There were large con- 
vol. 1 1 


tingents of Rugii and Heruli, who had flocked in bands 
to Italy as adventurers. Such troops had the status of 
foederati, that is, barbarian auxiliaries or allies. Suddenly 
they demanded one-third of the lands of Italy. 1 Upon 
refusal of their demand, they made a king from among 
themselves, the Herulian Odoacer, and Romulus Augustulus 
flitted from the shadowy imperial throne. By reason of his 
dramatic name, rather than by any marked circumstance of 
his deposition, he has come to typify with historians the 
close of the line of western emperors. 

The Herulian soldier-king or " Patrician," Odoacer, a 
nondescript transition personage, ruled twelve years. Then 
the nation of the Ostrogoths, which had learned much from 
the vicissitudes of fortune in the East, obtained the eastern 
emperor's sanction, and made its perilous way to the gates 
of Italy under the king, Theodoric. This invading people 
numbered perhaps two hundred thousand souls ; their 
fighting men were forty thousand. Odoacer was beaten on 
the river Isonzo ; he retreated to the line of the Adige, and 
was again defeated at Verona. After standing a long siege 
in Ravenna, he made terms with Theodoric, and was 
murdered by him. 

The Goths were among the best of the barbarians, and 
Theodoric was the greatest of the Goths. The eastern 
emperors probably regarded him as their representative in 
Italy ; and he coined money only with the Emperor's image. 
But in fact he was a sovereign ; and, through his sovereignty 
over both Goths and Romans, from a Teutonic king he 
became an absolute monarch, even as his contemporary 
Clovis became, under analogous circumstances. He was a 
just despot, with his subjects' welfare at heart. The Goths 
received one-third of the Italian lands, in return for which 
their duty was to defend the whole. This third may have 
been that previously possessed by Odoacer's troops. Under 
Theodoric the relations between Goths and " Romans " were 
friendly. It was from the Code of Theodosius and other 
Roman sources that he drew the substance of his legislation, 

1 This demand was not so extraordinary in view of the common Roman 
custom in the provinces of billeting soldiers upon the inhabitants, with the right 
to one-third of the house and appurtenances. 


the Edictum which about the year 510 he promulgated for 
both Goths and Romans {barbari Romanique). 1 His aim — 
and here the influence of his minister Cassiodorus appears — 
was to harmonize the relations of the two peoples and 
assimilate the ways of the Goths to those of their more 
civilized neighbours. But if his rule brought prosperity to 
Italy, after his death came desolating wars between the 
Goths under their noble kings, and Justinian's great generals, 
Belisarius and Narses. These wars ruined the Ostrogothic 
nation. Only some remnants were left to reascend the Alps 
in 553. Behind them Italy was a waste. 

An imperial eastern Roman restoration followed. It 
was not to endure. For already the able and savage 
Lombard Alboin was making ready to lead down his army 
of Lombards, Saxons, Gepidae and unassorted Teutons, and 
perhaps Slavs. No strength was left to oppose him in 
plague-stricken Italy. So the Lombard conquered easily, 
and set up a kingdom which, united or divided under kings 
and dukes, endured for two hundred years. Then Charle- 
magne — his father Pippin had been before him — at the 
entreaty of the Pope, invaded Italy with a host of mingled 
Teuton tribes, and put an end to the Lombard kingdom, 
but not to Lombard blood and Lombard traits. 

The result of all these invasions was a progressive bar- 
barization of Italy, which was not altogether unfortunate, 
because fraught with some renewal of strength. The Teutons 
brought their customs ; and at least one Teuton people, the 
Lombards, maintained them masterfully. The Ostrogoth, 
Theodoric, had preserved the Italian municipal organization, 
and had drawn his code for all from Roman sources. But 
the first Lombard Code, that of King Rothari, promulgated 
about 643, ignored Roman law, and apparently the very 
existence of Romans. Though written in barbarous Latin, 
it is Lombard through and through. So, to a scarcely less 
degree, is the Code of King Liutprand, promulgated about 
725. 2 Even then the Lombards looked upon themselves as 
distinct from the " Romans." Their laws were still those of 
the Lombards, yet of Lombards settling down to urban life. 

1 Cf. post, Chapter XXXIV., n. 
2 On the Codes see Hodgkin, ox. vol. vi. 


Within Lombard territories the " Romans " were subjects. 
In Liutprand's Code they seem to be referred to under the 
name of aldii and aldiae, male and female persons, who were 
not slaves and yet not free. Instead of surrendering one- 
third of the land, the Romans were obliged to furnish one- 
third of its produce. Hence their Lombard masters were 
interested in keeping them fixed to the soil, perhaps in a state 
of serfdom. Little is known as to the intermarriage of the 
stocks, or when the Lombards adopted a Latin speech. 1 

It is difficult, either in Italy or elsewhere, to follow the 
changes and reciprocal working of Roman and Teutonic 
institutions through these obscure centuries. They wrought 
upon each other universally, and became what neither had 
been before. The Roman State was there no longer ; where 
the names of its officials survived they stood for altered 
functions. The Roman law prevailed within the dominions 
of the eastern Empire and the popes. Everywhere the 
crass barbarian law and the pure Roman institution was 
passing away, or changing into something new. In Italy 
another pregnant change was taking place, the passing of the 
functions of government to the bishops of Rome. Its stages 
are marked by the names of great men upon whose shoulders 
fell the authority no longer held by a remote ruler. Leo the 
Great heads the embassy which turns back the Hun ; a 
century and a half afterwards Gregory the Great leads the 
opposition to the Lombards, still somewhat unkempt savages. 
Thereafter each succeeding pope, in fact the papacy by 
necessity of its position and its aspirations, opposes the 
Lombards when they have ceased to be either savage or 
Arian. It is an absent supporter that the papacy desires, 
and not a rival close at hand : Charlemagne, not Desiderius. 

When the Visigoths under Ataulf left Italy they passed 
into southern Gaul, and there established themselves with 
Toulouse as the centre of the Visigothic kingdom. They 
soon extended their rule to Spain, with the connivance of 
sundry Roman rulers. Some time before them Vandals, 
Suevi and Alans, having crossed the Rhine into Gaul, had 
been drawn across the Pyrenees by half -traitorous invitations 

1 The Lombard language was still spoken in the time of Paulus Diaconus 
(eighth century). 


of rival Roman governors. The Visigoths now attacked 
these peoples, with the result that the Suevi retreated to 
the north-west of the peninsula, and at length the restless 
Vandals accepted the invitation of the traitor Count Boniface, 
and crossed to Africa. Visigothic fortunes varied under an 
irregular succession of non-hereditary and occasionally mur- 
dered kings. Their kingdom reached its farthest limit in the 
reign of Euric (466-486), who extended its boundaries north- 
ward to the Loire and southward over nearly all of Spain. 1 
Under the Visigoths the lot of the Latinized provincials, 
who with their ancestors had long been Roman citizens, was 
not a hard one. The Roman system of quartering soldiers 
upon provincials, with a right to one-third of the house, 
afforded precedent for the manner of settlement of the 
Visigoths and other Teuton invaders after them. The 
Visigoths received two-thirds not only of the houses but also 
of the lands, which indeed were bare of cultivators. The 
municipal organization of the towns was left intact, and in 
general the nomenclature and structure of Roman officialdom 
were preserved. As the Romans were the more numerous 
and the cleverer, they regained their wealth and social 
consideration. In 506, Alaric II. promulgated his famous 
code, the Lex Romana Visigothorum, usually called the 
" Breviarium," for his Roman subjects. Although the next 
year Clovis broke down the Visigothic kingdom in Gaul, and 
confined it to narrow limits around Narbonne, this code 
remained in force, a lasting source of Roman law for the 
inhabitants of the south and west of Gaul. 2 

1 Apollinaris Sidonius, Ep. i. 2 (trans, by Hodgkin, o.c. vol. ii. 352-358), gives 
a sketch of a Visigothic king, Theodoric II., son of him who fell in the battle 
against the Huns. He ascended the throne in 453, having accomplished the 
murder of his brother Thorismund. In 466, he was himself slain by his brother 
Euric. In the meanwhile he appears to have been a good half-barbaric, half- 
civilized king. 

2 See post, Chapter XXXIV., 11. For the Visigothic kingdom of Spain the 
great reigns were those of Leowigild (568-586) and his son Reccared (586-601). 
In Justinian's time the " Roman Empire " had again made good its rule over the 
south of Spain. Leowigild pushed the Empire back to a narrow strip of southern 
coast, where there were still important cities. Save for this, he conquered all 
Spain, finally mastering the Suevi in the north-west. His capital was Toledo. 
Great as was his power, it hardly sufficed to hold in check the overweening nobles 
and landowners. Under the declining Empire there had sprung up a system of 
clientage and protection, in which the Teutons found an obstacle to the establish- 
ment of monarchies. In Spain this system hastened the downfall of the Visigothic 


Throughout Visigothic Spain there existed, in conflict if 
not in force, a complex mass of diverse laws and customs, 
written and unwritten, Roman, Gothic, ecclesiastical. Soon 
after the middle of the seventh century a general code was 
compiled for both Goths and Roman provincials, between 
whom marriages were formally sanctioned. This codification 
was the legal expression of a national unity, which however 
had no great political vigour. For what with its inheritance 
of intolerable taxation, of dwindling agriculture, of enfeebled 
institutions and social degeneracy, the Visigothic state fell 
an easy victim to the Arabs in 711. It had been subject 
to all manner of administrative abuse. In name the govern- 
ment was secular. But in fact the bishops of the great sees 
were all-powerful to clog, if not to administer, justice and 
the affairs of State within their domains ; the nobles abetted 
them in their misgovernment. So it came that instead 
of a united Government supported by a strong military 
power, there was divided misrule, and an army without 
discipline or valour. This misrule was also cruelly in- 
tolerant. The bitter persecution of the Jews, and the law 
that none but a Catholic should live in Spain, if not causes, 
were at least symptoms, of a fatal impotence, and prophetic 
of like measures taken by later rulers in that chosen land of 
religious persecution. 1 

kingdom. Another source of trouble for Leowigild, who was still an Arian, was 
the opposition of the powerful Catholic clergy. Reccared, his son, changed to 
the Catholic or " Roman " creed, and ended the schism between the throne and 
the bishops. 

1 The Spanish Roman Church, which controlled or thwarted the destinies of 
the doomed Visigothic kingdom, was foremost among the western churches in 
ability and learning. It had had its martyrs in the times of pagan persecution ; 
it had its universally venerated Hosius, Bishop of Cordova and prominent at the 
Council of Nicaea ; it had its fiercely quelled heresies and schisms ; and it had an 
astounding number of councils, usually held at Toledo. Its bishops were princes. 
Leander, Bishop of Seville, had been a tribulation to the powerful, still Arian, King 
Leowigild, who was compelled to banish him. That king's son, Reccared, re- 
called him from banishment, to preside at the Council of Toledo in 589, when 
the Visigothic monarchy turned to 'Roman Catholicism. Leander was succeeded 
in his more than episcopal see by his younger brother Isidore (Bishop of Seville 
from 600 to 636). A princely prelate, Isidore was to have still wider and more 
lasting fame for sanctity and learning. The last encyclopaedic scholar belonging 
to the antique Christian world, he became one of the great masters of the Middle 
Ages (see ante, Chapter V.). The forger and compiler of the False Decretals in 
selecting the name of Isidore rather than another to clothe that collection with 
authority acted under the universal veneration felt for this great Spanish Church- 


In Gaul, contact between Latinized provincials and 
Teutonic invaders produced interesting results. Mingled 
peoples came into being, whose polity and institutions were 
neither Roman nor Teutonic, and whose literature and 
intellectual achievement were to unite the racial qualities of 
both. The hybrid political and social phenomena of the 
Frankish period were engendered by a series of events which 
may be outlined as follows. The Franks, Salic and 
Ripuarian, were clustered in the region of the lower and 
middle Rhine. Like other Teutonic groups dwelling near 
the boundaries of the weakening Empire, they were 
alternately plunderers of Roman territory and auxiliaries in 
the imperial army, or its independent allies against Huns 
or Saxons or Alans. One Childeric, whose career opens in 
saga and ends in history, was king or hereditary leader of 
a part of the Salian Franks. This active man appears 
in frequent relations with Aegidius, the half-independent 
Roman ruler of that north-western portion of Gaul which 
was not held by Visigoths or Burgundians. If Childeric's 
forefathers had oftener been enemies than allies of the 
Empire, he was its ally, and perhaps commander of the 
forces which helped to preserve this outlying portion of its 

Aegidius died in 463, and the territories ruled by him 
passed to his son Syagrius practically as an independent 
kingdom. Childeric in the next eighteen years increased 
his power among the Salian Franks, and extended his 
territories through victories over other Teutonic groups. 
Upon his death in 481 his kingdom passed to his son 
Chlodoweg, or, as it is easier to call him, Clovis, then in his 
sixteenth year. The next five years were employed by 
this precocious genius of barbarian craft in strengthening his 
kingship among the Salians. At the age of twenty he 
attacked Syagrius, and overthrew his power at Soissons. 
The last Roman ruler of a part of Gaul fled to the Visigoths 
for refuge : their king delivered him to Clovis, who had him 
killed. So Clovis's realm was extended first to the Seine 
and then to the Loire. The Gallo-Romans were not driven 
out or dispossessed, but received a new master, who on his 
part treated them forbearingly and accepted them as subjects. 


The royal domains of Syagrius perhaps were large enough to 
satisfy the cupidity of the victors. 

Clovis was now king of Gallo-Romans as well as Salian 
Franks. Thus strengthened he could fight other Franks 
with success, and carry on a great war against the Alemanni 
to the south-east. At the " battle of Tolbiac," in which he 
finally overthrew these people, the heathen Frank invoked 
the Christian God (so tells Gregory of Tours), and vowed to 
accept the Faith if Christ gave him the victory. This is 
like the legend of Constantine at the battle of the Mulvian 
Bridge, nor is the probability of its essential truth lessened 
because of this resemblance. Both Roman emperor and 
Frankish king turned from heathenism to Christianity as to 
the stronger supernatural support. And if ever man received 
tenfold reward in this world from his faith it was this 
treacherous and bloody Frank. 

Hitherto the Teuton tribes, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, 
Vandals, Burgundians who had accepted Christianity, were 
Arians by reason of the circumstances of their " conversion." 
On the other hand, the Romanized inhabitants of Italy, 
Spain, and Gaul were Catholics, and the influence of their 
Arian-hating clergy was enormous. Evidently when Clovis, 
under the influence of Catholic bishops and a Catholic wife, 
became a Catholic, the power of the Church and the 
sympathy of the laity would make his power irresistible. 
For the Catholic population was greatly in the majority, 
even in the countries held by Burgundian or Visigothic 
kings. The Burgundian rulers had half turned to 
Catholicism, and the Visigothic monarchy treated it with 
respect. Yet the Burgundian kings did not win the Church's 
confidence, nor did the Visigoths disarm its active hostility. 
With such ability as Clovis and his sons possessed, their 
conversion to Catholicism ensured victory over their rivals, 
and made a bond of friendship between them and their Gallo- 
Roman subjects. 1 

The extension of Clovis's kingdom, his overthrow of the 
Visigothic power, his partial conquest of the Burgundians, 
would have been even more rapid and decisive but for the 
opposing diplomacy of the great Arian ruler, Theodoric the 

1 Marriages between Romans and Franks were legalized as early as 497. 


Ostrogoth, whose prestige and power even the bold Frank 
dared not defy. Moreover, the Burgundians stood well with 
their Roman subjects, whom they treated generously, and 
permitted to live under a code of Roman law. When it 
came to war between them and Clovis, the advantage rested 
with the latter ; but possibly the fear of Theodoric, or the 
pressure of war with the Alemanni, deferred the final con- 
quest of the Burgundian kingdom for another generation. 

In 507 Clovis attacked the Visigothic kingdom, and 
incorporated it with his dominions in the course of the next 
year. Whether or not he had cried out, in the words of 
Gregory of Tours, "it is a shame that these Arians should 
hold a part of Gaul ; let us attack them with God's help and 
take their land," at all events the war had a religious 
sanction, and its successful issue was facilitated by the 
Catholic clergy within the Visigothic territory. Clovis's 
career was now nearing its end. In his last years, by 
treachery, murder, and open war when needed, he made 
himself king of all the Franks, Ripuarian and Salian. The 
intense partisan sympathy of the Church for this its eldest 
royal Teuton son speaks in the words of Gregory of Tours, 
concluding his recital of these deeds of incomparable villainy : 
" Thus day by day God cast down his (Clovis's) enemies 
before him, because he did what was right in His eyes " ! 

The unresting sons and grandsons of Clovis not only 
conquered Burgundy, but extended their rule far to the east, 
into the heart of Germany, and Merovingians became masters 
of Thuringia and Bavaria. That such a realm should hold 
together was impossible. From Clovis to Charlemagne it 
was the regular practice to divide the realm at death among 
the ruler's sons, and for the ablest among them to pursue 
and slay the others, and so unite the realm again. Besides 
this principle of internecine conflict, differences of race and 
language and degrees of Latinization ensured eventual 

Nothing passes away, and very little quite begins, but 
all things change ; and so the verity of social and political 
phenomena lies in the becoming, rather than in any temporary 
phase — as one may perceive in the Merovingian, later 
Carolingian, regnum Francorum. Therein Roman insti- 


tutions survived either as decayed actualities or as names 
or effigies ; therein were conditions and even institutions 
which arose and were developed through the decay of 
previous institutions, through the weakening of the imperial 
peace and justice, the growth of abuses, and the need of the 
weak to put themselves under the protection of the nearest 
strong. This huge conglomerate of a government also held 
sturdy Teuton elements. There was the kingship and the 
strong body of personal followers, the latter an outgrowth of 
the comitates, or rather of the needs of any barbaric chief- 
taincy. There was wergeld, not so much exclusively a 
Teutonic institution, as belonging to a rough society which 
sees the need of checking feuds, and finds the means in a 
system of compensation to the injured person or his kin, who 
would otherwise make reprisals ; there was also Sippe, the 
rights and duties of kin among themselves, and of the kinship 
as a corporate unit toward the world without ; and therein, 
in general, was continuance of the warrior spirit of the Franks 
and other Teutons, of their social ways and mode of dress, 
of their methods of warfare and their thoughts of barbaric 

These elements, and much more besides, were in process 
of mutual interplay and amalgamation. Childeric had been 
king of some of the Salian Franks, and had allied himself 
with the last fragment of the Roman Empire in Gaul. Clovis, 
his son, is greater : he makes himself king of more Franks, 
and becomes the head of the Roman-Frankish combination 
by overthrowing Syagrius and taking his place as lord of the 
Gallo-Romans. As towards them he becomes even as 
Syagrius and the emperors before him, absolute ruler, 
princeps. This authority enhanced the dignity of Clovis's 
kingship over his own Franks and the Alemanni, and his 
personal power increased with each new conquest. He 
became a novel sort of monarch, combining heterogeneous 
prerogatives. Hence his sovereignty and that of his 
successors was not a simple development of Teutonic king- 
ship, nor was it a continuation of Roman imperial or pro- 
consular rule, but rather a new composite evolution. Some 
of its contradictions and anomalies were symbolized by 
Clovis's acceptance of the title of Consul and stamping 


the effigies of the eastern emperors upon his coins — as if 
they held any power in the regnum Francorum ! As between 
Gallo-Romans and Franks, the headship had gone over to 
the latter ; yet there was neither hatred on the one side nor 
oppression from the other. A common Catholicism and 
many similarities of condition promoted mutual sympathy 
and union. For example, through the decay of the imperial 
power, oppression had increased, and the common Gallo- 
Roman people were compelled to place themselves under the 
patronage of powerful personages who could give them the 
protection which they could no longer look for from the 
Government. So relationships of personal dependence 
developed, not essentially dissimilar from those subsisting 
between the Franks and their kings, when the kings were 
mere leaders of small tribes or war bands. But the vastness 
of the Salian realm impaired the personal relationship 
between king and subjects, and again the latter, Frankish or 
Gallo-Roman, needed nearer protectors, and found them in 
neighbouring great proprietors and functionaries, Frankish 
or Gallo-Roman as the case might be. 1 

Through all the turmoil of the Merovingian period, there 
was doubtless individual injustice and hardship everywhere, 
but no racial tyranny. The Gallo-Roman kept his language 
and property, and continued to live under the Roman law. 
He was not inferior to the Frank, except that the latter was 
entitled to a higher wergeld for personal injury, which, how- 
ever, soon was equalized. The Frank also lived under his 
own law, Salic or Ripuarian. But the general mingling of 
peoples in the end made it impossible to distinguish the law 
personally applicable ; and thereupon, both as to Franks 
and Gallo-Romans, the territorial law superseded the law of 
race. 2 And when, after two centuries, the Merovingian 
kingdom, through change of dynasty, became the Caro- 
lingian, political discrepancies between Frank and Gallo- 
Roman had passed away. Yet this huge colossus of a realm 
with its shoulders of iron and its feet of clay, still included 
enough disparities of race and land, language and institution, 
to ensure its dissolution. 

1 See Flach, Les Origines de I'ancienne France, vol. i. chap. i. sqq. (Paris, 1886). 
2 See post, Chapter XXXIV, 11. 



The northern races who were to form part of the currents of 
mediaeval life are grouped under the names of Celts and 
Teutons. 1 The chief sections of the former, dwelling in 
northern Italy and Gaul and Spain, were Latinized and 
then Christianized long before the mediaeval period, and 
themselves helped to create the patristic and even the 
antique side of the mediaeval patrimony. Their role was 
largely mediatorial, and geographically, as well as in their 

1 The physiological criterion of a race is consanguinity. But unfortunately 
racial lineage soon loses itself in obscurity. Moreover, during periods as to which 
we have some knowledge, no race has continued pure from alien admixture ; 
and every people that has taken part in the world's advance has been acted upon 
by foreign influences from its prehistoric beginnings throughout the entire course 
of its history. Indeed, foreign suggestions and contact with other peoples appear 
essential to tribal or national progress. For the historian there exists no pure 
and unmixed race", and even the conception of one becomes self-contradictory. 
To him a race is a group of people, presumably related in some way by blood, 
who appear to transmit from generation to generation a common heritage of 
culture and like physical and spiritual traits. He observes that the transmitted 
characteristics of such a group may weaken or dissipate before foreign influence, 
and much more as the group scatters among other people ; or again he sees its 
distinguishing traits becoming clearer as the members draw to a closer national 
unity under the action of a common physical environment, common institutions, 
and a common speech. The historian will not accept as conclusive any single 
kind of evidence regarding race. He may attach weight to complexion, stature, 
and shape of skull, and yet find their interpretation quite perplexing when 
compared with other evidence, historical or linguistic. He will consider customs 
and implements, and yet remember that customs may be borrowed, and imple- 
ments are often of foreign pattern. Language affords him the most enticing 
criterion, but one of the most deceptive. It is a matter of observation that when 
two peoples of different tongues meet together, they may mingle their blood 
through marriage, combine their customs, and adopt each other's utensils and 
ornaments ; but the two languages will not structurally unite : one will supplant 
the other. The language may thus be more single in source than the people 
speaking it ; though, conversely, people of the same race, by reason of special 
circumstances, may not speak the same tongue. Hence linguistic unity is not 
conclusive evidence of unity of race. 


chap. vii CELTIC STRAINS 125 

time of receiving Latin culture, they were intermediaries 
between the classic sources and the Teutons, who also were 
to drink of these magic draughts, but not so deeply as to 
be transformed to Latin peoples. The role of the Teutons 
in the mediaeval evolution was to accept Christianity and 
learn something of the pagan antique, and then to react 
upon what they had received and change it in their natures. 

Central Europe seems to have been the early home alike 
of Celts and Teutons. Thence successive migratory groups 
appear to have passed westwardly and southerly. Both 
races spoke Aryan tongues, and according to the earliest 
notices of classic writers resembled each other physically — 
large, blue-eyed, with yellow or tawny hair. The more 
penetrating accounts of Caesar and Tacitus disclose their 
distinctive racial traits, which contrast still more clearly in 
the remains of the early Celtic (Irish) and Teutonic litera- 
tures. Whatever were the ethnological affinities between 
Celt and Teuton, and however imperceptibly these races may 
have shaded into each other, for example, in northern France 
and Belgium, their characters were different, and their 
opposing racial traits have never ceased to display themselves 
in the literature as well as in the political and social history 
of western Europe. 

The time and the manner of the Celtic occupation of Gaul 
and Spain remain obscure. 1 It took place long before the 
turmoils of the second century B.C., when the Teutonic 
tribes began to assert themselves, probably in the north of 
the present Germany, and to press south-westwardly upon 
Celtic neighbours on both sides of the Rhine. Some of 
them pushed on towards lands held by the Belgae, and then 
passed southward toward Aquitania, drawing Belgic and 
Celtic peoples with them. Afterwards turning eastwardly 
they invaded the Roman Provincia in southern Gaul, and 
through their victories threatened the great Republic. This 

1 As to the Celts in Gaul and elsewhere, and the early non-Celtic population 
of Gaul, see A. Bertrand, La Gaule avant les Gaulois (Paris, 1891) ; La Religion 
des Gaulois (Paris, 1897) ; Les Celtes dans les tallies du Pd et du Danube (in con- 
junction with S. Reinach) ; D'Arbois de Jubainville, Les Premiers Habitants de 
I'Europe (second edition, Paris, 1894) ; Fustel de Coulanges, Institutions politiques 
de I'ancienne France (Paris, 1891) ; Karl Mullenhoff, Deutsche Altertumskunde, 
Bde. I. and II. ; Zupitza, " Kelten und Gallier," Zeitschrift ftir keltische Philologie, 


was the peril of the Cimbri and Teutones, which Marius 
quelled by the waters of the Durance and then among the 
hills of Piedmont. The invasion did not change the ethno- 
logy of Gaul, which, however, was not altogether Celtic in 
Caesar's time. The opening sentences of his Commentaries 
indicate anything but racial unity. The Roman province 
was mainly Ligurian in blood. West of the province, 
between the Pyrenees and the Garonne, were the " Aquitani," 
chiefry of Iberian stock. The Celtae, whose western boundary 
was the ocean, reached from the Garonne as far north as the 
Seine, and eastwardly across the centre of Gaul to the head 
waters of the Rhine. North of them were the Belgae, extend- 
ing from the Seine and the British Channel to the lower 
Rhine. These Belgae also apparently were Celts, and yet, 
as their lands touched those of the Germans on the Rhine, 
they naturally show Teutonic affinities, and some of their 
tribes contained strains of Teuton blood. But it is not 
blood alone that makes the race ; and Gaul, with its 
dominant Celtic element, was making Gauls out of all these 
peoples. At all events a common likeness may be discerned 
in the picture of Gallic traits which Caesar gives. 1 

Gallic civilization had then advanced as far as the native 
political incapacity of the Gauls would permit. Quick- 
witted and intelligent, they were to gain from Rome the 
discipline they needed. Once accustomed to the enforce- 
ment of a stable order, their finer qualities responded by a 
ready acceptance of the benefits of civilization and a rapid 
appropriation of Latin culture. Not a sentence of the Gallic 
literature survives. But that this people were endowed 
with eloquence and possessed of a sense of form, was to be 
shown by works in their adopted tongue. 2 Romanized and 
Latinized, they were converted to Christianity and then 
renewed with fresh Teutonic blood. So they enter upon the 

1 See ante, Chapter II. 

2 The Latin literature produced by their descendants in the fourth century is 
usually good in form, whatever other qualities it lack. This statement applies 
to the works of the nominally Christian, but really pagan, rhetorician and poet, 
Ausonius, born in 310, at Bordeaux, of mingled Aquitanian and Aeduan blood ; 
likewise to the poems of Paulinus of Nola, born at the same town, in 353, and 
to the prose of Sulpicius Severus, also born in Aquitaine a little after. In the 
fifth century, Avitus, an Auvernian, Bishop of Vienne, and Apollinaris Sidonius 
continue the Gallo-Latin strain in literature. 

chap, vn CELTIC STRAINS 127 

mediaeval period ; and when, after the millennial year, the 
voices of the Middle Ages cease simply to utter the barbaric 
or echo the antique, it becomes clear that nowhere is there 
a happier balance of intellectual faculty and emotional 
capacity than in these peoples of mingled stock who long 
had dwelt in the country which we know as France. 

Since the Celts of Gaul have left no witness of themselves 
in Gallic institutions or literature, it is necessary to turn to 
Ireland for clearer evidence of Celtic qualities. There one 
may see what might come of a predominantly Celtic people 
who lacked the lesson of Roman conquest and the discipline 
of Roman order. The early history of the Irish, their 
presentation of themselves in imaginative literature, their 
attainment in learning and accomplishment in art, are not 
unlike what might have been expected from Caesar's Gauls 
under similar conditions of comparative isolation. Irish 
history displays the social turmoil and barbarism resulting 
from insular aggravation of the Celtic weaknesses noticeable 
in Caesar's sketch ; and the same are carried to burlesque 
excess in the old Irish literature. On the other hand, Irish 
qualities of temperament and mind bear such fair fruit in 
literature and art as might be imagined springing from the 
Gallic stem but for the Roman graft. 1 

No trustworthy story can be put together from the myth, 
tradition, and conscious fiction which record the unpro- 

1 Without hazarding a discussion of the origin of the Irish, of their proportion 
of Celtic blood, or their exact relation to the Celts of the Continent, it may in a 
general way be said, that Ireland and Great Britain were inhabited by a pre- 
historic and pre-Celtic people. The Celts came from the Continent, conquered 
them, and probably intermarried with them. The Celtic inflow may have begun 
in the sixth century before Christ, and perhaps continued until shortly before 
Caesar's time. Evidences of language point to a dual Celtic stock, Goidelic and 
Brythonic. It may be surmised that the former was the first to arrive. The 
Celtic dialect spoken by them is now represented by the Gaelic of Ireland, Man, 
and Scotland. The Brythonic is still represented by the speech of Wales and 
the Armoric dialects of Brittany. This was the language of the Britons who 
fought with Caesar, and were subdued by later Roman generals. After the 
Roman time they were either pressed back into Wales and Cornwall by Angles, 
Jutes, and Saxons, or were absorbed among these conquering Teutons. Probably 
Caesar was correct in asserting the close affinity of the Britons with the Belgic 
tribes of the Continent. See the opening chapters of Rhys and Brynmor- Jones's 
Welsh People ; also Rhys's Early Britain (London, 1882) ; Zupitza, " Kelten und 
Gallier," Zeitschrift fiir keltische Phil., 1902 ; T. H. Huxley, " On some Fixed 
Points in British Ethnology," Contemporary Review for 1871, reprinted in Essays 
(Appleton's, 1894) ; Ripley, Races of Europe, chap. xii. (New York, 1899). 


gressive turbulence of pre-Christian Ireland. But the Irish 
character and capacities are clearly mirrored in this enormous 
Gaelic literature. Truculence and vanity pervade it, and a 
passion for hyperbole. A weak sense of fact and a lack of 
steady rational purpose are also conspicuous. It is as 
ferocious as may be. Yet, withal, it keeps the charm of the 
Irish temperament. Its pathos is moving, even lovely. 
Some of the poetry has a mystic sensuousness ; the lines 
fall on the ear like the lapping of ripples on an unseen shore ; 
the imagery has a fantastic and romantic beauty, and the 
reader is wafted along on waves of temperament and feeling. 1 
Whatever themes sprang from the pagan age, probably 
nothing was written down before the Christian time, when 
Christian matter might be foisted into the pagan story. 
The sagas belonging to the so-called Ulster Cycle afford the 
best illustration of early Irish traits. 2 They reflect a society 

1 The Irish art of illumination presents analogies to the literature. The 
finesse of design and execution in the Book of Kells (seventh century) is astonishing. 
Equally marvellous was the work of Irish goldsmiths. Both arts doubtless made 
use of designs common upon the Continent, and may even have drawn suggestions 
from Byzantine or late Roman patterns. Nevertheless, illumination and the 
goldsmith's art in Ireland are characteristically Irish and the very climax of 
barbaric fashions. Their forms pointed to nothing further. These astounding 
spirals, meanders, and interlacings, combined with utterly fantastic and impossible 
drawings of the human form, required essential modification before they were 
suited to form part of that organic development of mediaeval art which followed 
its earlier imitative periods. 

Irish illumination was carried by Columba to Iona, and spread thence through 
many monasteries in the northern part of Britain. It was imitated in the Anglo- 
Saxon monasteries of Northumbria, and from them passed with Alcuin to the 
Court of Charlemagne. Through these transplantings the Irish art was changed, 
under the hands of men conversant with Byzantine and later Roman art. The 
influence of the art also worked outward from Irish monasteries upon the 
Continent, St. Gall, for example. The Irish goldsmith's art likewise passed into 
Saxon England, into Carolingian France, and into Scandinavia. See J. H. 
Middleton, Illuminated Manuscripts (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1892), and the 
different view as to the sources of Irish illuminating art in Muntz, Etudes 
iconographiques (Paris, 1887) ; also Kraus, Geschichte der christlichen Kunst, i. 
607-619 ; Margaret Stokes, Early Christian Art in Ireland (South Kensington 
Museum Art Hand-Books, 1894), vol. i. p. 32 sqq., and vol. ii. pp. 73, 78 ; Sophus 
Miiller, Nordische Altertumskunde, vol. ii. chap. xiv. (Strassburg, 1898). 

2 The classification of ancient Irish literature is largely the work of O'Curry, 
Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History (Dublin, 1861, 
2nd ed., 1878). See also D. Hyde, A Literary History of Ireland, chaps, xxi.-xxix. 
(London, 1899) ; D'Arbois de Jubainville, Introduction A I'Stude de la litterature 
celtique, chap, preliminaire (Paris, 1883). The tales of the Ulster Cycle, in the 
main, antedate the coming of the Norsemen in the eighth century ; but the later 
redactions seem to reflect Norse customs ; see Pflugk-Hartung, in Revue celtique, 
t. xiii. (1892), p. 170 sqq. 

chap, vii CELTIC STRAINS 129 

apparently at the " Homeric " stage of development, though 
the Irish heroes suffer in comparison with the Greek by 
reason of the immeasurable inferiority of these Gaelic Sagas 
to the Iliad and Odyssey. There is the same custom of 
fighting from chariots, the same tried charioteer, the hero's 
closest friend, and the same unstable relationship between 
the chieftains and the king. 1 

The Achilles of the Ulster Cycle is Cuchulain. The Tain 
Bo Cuailgne (Englished rather improperly as the " Cattle- 
raid of Cooley ") is the long and famous Saga that brings 
his glory to its height. 2 Other Sagas tell of his mysterious 
birth, his youthful deeds, his wooing, his various feats, and 
then the moving, fateful story of his death. Loved by 
many women, cherished by heroes, beautiful in face and 
form, possessed of strength, agility, and skill in arms beyond 
belief, uncontrolled, chivalric, his battle-ardour unquench- 
able, he is a brilliant epic hero. But his story is weakened 
by hyperbole. Even to-day we know how sword-strokes 
and spear-thrust kill. So do great narrators, who likewise 
realize the literary power of truth. Through the Iliad 
there is no combat between heroes where spear and sword 
do not pierce and kill as they do in fact. So in the Sagas 
of the Norse, the man falls before the mortal blow. But 
in the Ulster Cycle, day after day, two heroes may mangle 
each other in every impossible and fantastic way, beyond 
the bounds of the faintest shadow of verisimilitude. 3 In 

1 This comparison with Homeric society might be extended so as to include 
the Celts of Britain and Gaul. Close affinities appear between the Gauls 
and the personages of the Ulster Cycle. Several of its Sagas have to do 
with the " hero's portion " awarded to the bravest warrior at the feast, a 
source of much pleasant trouble. Posidonius, writing in the time of Cicero, 
mentions the same custom among the Celts of Gaul (Didot-Muller, Fragmenta 
hist. Graec. t. iii. p. 260, col. 1 ; D'Arbois de Jubainville, Introduction, etc., 
pp. 297, 298). 

2 Probably first written down in the seventh century. Some of the Cuchulain 
Sagas are rendered by D'Arbois de Jubainville, E.popee celtique ; they are given 
popularly in E. Hull's Cuchulain Saga (D. Nutt, London, 1898). Also to some 
extent in Hyde's Lit. Hist., etc. 

3 See the famous Battle of the Ford between Cuchulain and Ferdiad (Hyde, 
Lit. Hist, of Ireland, pp. 328-334). A more burlesque hyperbole is that of the 
three caldrons of cold water prepared for Cuchulain to cool his battle-heat ; when 
he was plunged in the first, it boiled ; plunged into the second, no one could hold 
his hand in it ; but in the third, the water became tepid (D'Arbois de Jubain- 
ville, Upopee celtique, p. 204). 



this weakness of hyperbole the Irish Sagas are outdone only 
by the monstrous doings of the epics of India. 

Besides hyperbole, Irish tales display another weakness, 
which is not unpleasing, although an element of failure both 
in the people and their literature. This is the quality of 
non-arrival. Some old tales evince it in the unsteadfast 
purpose of the narrative, the hero quite forgetting the initial 
motive of his action. In the Voyage of Maeldun, for instance, 
a son sets out upon the ocean to seek his father's murderers, 
a motive which is lost sight of amid the marvels of the 
voyage. 1 As may be imagined, qualities of vanity, trucu- 
lence, irrationality, hyperbole, and non-arrival or lack of 
sequence, frequently impart an air of houffe to the Irish 
Sagas, making them humorous beyond the intention of their 
composers. 2 

Yet true heroic notes are to be heard. 3 And however 
rare the tales which have not the makings of a brawl on 
every page, these truculent Sagas sometimes speak with 
power and pathos, and sweetly present the loveliness of 
nature or the charms of women ; all in a manner happily 
indicative of the impressionable Irish temperament. 
Examples are the moving tales of The Children of Usnach 
and the Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne.* They bring to 

1 Certain interpolated Christian chapters at the end tell how Maeldun is led 
to forgive the murderers — an idea certainly foreign to the original pagan story, 
which may perhaps have had its own ending. The tale is translated in P. W. 
Joyce, Old Celtic Romances (London, 1894), and by F. Lot in D'Arbois de Jubain- 
ville's E.pop&e celtique, pp. 449-500. 

2 Perhaps no one of the Ulster Sagas exhibits these qualities more amusingly 
than The Feast of Bricriu, a tale in which contention for the " hero's portion " is 
the leading motive. Its personae are the men and women who constantly appear 
and reappear throughout this cycle. In this Saga they act and speak admirably 
in character, and some of the descriptions bring the very man before our eyes. 
It is translated by George Henderson, Vol. II. Irish Texts Society (London, 
1899), and also by D'Arbois de Jubainville in his E.pope'e celtique (Paris, 1892). 

3 For example, in a historical Saga the great King Brian speaks, fighting 
against the Norsemen : " O God . . . retreat becomes us not, and I myself 
know I shall not leave this place alive ; and what would it profit me if I did ? 
For Aibhell of Grey Crag came to me last night, and told me that I should be 
killed this day." 

4 " Deirdre, or the Fate of the Sons of Usnach," is rendered in E. Hull's 
Cuchulain Saga ; Hyde, Lit. Hist., chap, xxv., and D'Arbois de Jubainville, 
E.popee celtique, pp. 217-319. The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne was edited 
by O'Duffy for the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language (Dublin, 
Gill and Son, 1895), and less completely in Joyce's Old Celtic Romances (London, 

chap, vn CELTIC STRAINS 131 

mind the Tristram story, which grew up among a kindred 
people. The first of them only belongs to the Ulster Cycle. 
Both are stories of a beautiful and headstrong maiden 
betrothed to an old king. Each maid rebels against union 
with an old man ; each falls in love with a young hero, and, 
unabashed, asks him to flee with her. In the former tale 
the heroine's charms win the hero, while in the latter he is 
overcome by the violent insistence of a woman not to be 
gainsaid. In both stories love brings the hero to his death. 
The Irish genius also showed an aptitude for lyric ex- 
pression, and at an early period developed elaborate modes 
of rhymed and alliterative verse. 1 Peculiarly beautiful 
are the poems descriptive of nature 2 and those reflecting 
the Gaelic belief in a future life. A charming description 
of Elysium is offered by The Voyage of Bran, a Saga of the 
Otherworld, dating from the seventh century. Its verse 
portions preponderate, the prose serving as their frame. 3 
But it opens in prose, telling how one day, walking near his 
stronghold, Bran heard sweet music behind him, and as 
often as he turned the music was still behind him. He fell 
asleep at last from the sweetness of the strains. When he 
awoke, he found by him a branch silvery with white blossoms. 
He took it to his home, where was seen a woman who sang : 

" A branch of the apple-tree from Emain I bring ; 
Twigs of white silver are on it, 
Crystal boughs with blossoms. 
There is a distant isle, 
Around which sea-horses (waves) glisten : " 

And the woman sings on, picturing " Mag Mell of many 
flowers," and of the host ever rowing thither from across 
the sea ; till at last Bran and his people set forth in their 
boat and row on and on, till they are welcomed by sweet 
women with music and wine in island-fields of flowers and 
bird-song. There is no sad strain in the music from this 
Gaelic land beyond the grave. 

1 Cf. Hyde, o.c, chaps, xxi., xxxvi. 

2 For examples see Kuno Meyer, Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry (Constable, 

3 The Voyage of Bran, edited and translated by Kuno Meyer, with essays on 
the Celtic Otherworld, by Alfred Nutt (2 vols., David Nutt, London, 1895). A 
Saga usually is prose interspersed with lyric verses at critical points of the story . 


Irish traits observed in poem and Saga are reflected in 
accounts of not improbable events, and exemplified in 
Christian saints ; for the Irish did not change their spots 
upon conversion. How Christianity failed to affect the - 
manners of the ancient Irish is illustrated in the story of the 
Cursing of Tara, where tradition says the high-kings of 
Ireland held sway. The account is scarcely historical ; yet 
Tara existed, and fell to decay in the sixth century. 1 Its 
cursing was on this wise. King Dermot was high-king of 
Ireland. His laws were obeyed throughout the land, and 
over its length and breadth marched his spear-bearer assert- 
ing the royal authority, and holding the king's spear across 
his body before him. Every town and castle must open 
wide enough to let this spear pass, carried crosswise. The 
spear-bearer comes to the strong house of Aedh. He finds 
the outer palisade breached to let the spear through, but not 
the inner house. The bearer demands that it be torn open. 
" Order it so as to please thyself," quoth Aedh, as he smote 
off his head. 

King Dermot sent his men to lay waste to Aedh's land 
and seize his person. Aedh flees, and at last takes refuge 
with St. Ruadhan. The king again sends messengers, but 
they are foiled, till he comes himself, seizes the outlaw, and 
carries him off to hang him at Tara. Thereupon St. Ruadhan 
seeks St. Brendan of Birr and others. They proceed to 
Tara and demand the prisoner. The king answers that 
the Church cannot protect lawbreakers. So all the clergy 
rang their bells and chanted psalms against the king before 
Tara, and fasted on him (in order that their imprecations 
might be more potent), and he fasted on them. King and 
clergy fasted on each other, till one night the clergy made 
a show of eating in sight of the town, but passed the meat 
and ale beneath their cowls. So the king was tricked into 
taking meat ; and an evil dream came to him, by which he 
knew the clergy would succeed in destroying his kingdom. 

In the morning the king went and said to the clergy : 
" 111 have ye done to undo my kingdom, because I main- 

1 On Tara, see Index in O'Curry's Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish ; 
also Hyde, Literary History, pp. 126-130. For this story, see O'Grady, Silva 
Gaedelica, pp. 77-88 (London, 1892) ; Hyde, pp. 226-232. 

chap. vii CELTIC STRAINS 133 

tained the righteous cause. Be thy diocese, Ruadhan, the 
first one ruined, and may thy monks desert thee." 

Said the saint : " May thy kingdom droop speedily." 

Said the king : " Thy see shall be empty, and swine shall 
root up thy churchyards." 

Said the saint : " Tara shall be desolate, and therein shall 
no dwelling be for ever." 

It was the custom of ancient bards to utter an impreca- 
tion or " satire " against those offending them. 1 The irate 
fasting and cursing by the Irish clergy was a thinly Christian- 
ized continuation of the same Irish habit, inspired by the 
same Irish temper. There was no chasm between the pagan 
bards and the - Christian clergy, who loved the Sagas and 
preserved them. They had also their predecessors in the 
Druids, who had performed the functions of diviners, 
magicians, priests, and teachers, which were assumed by 
the clergy in the fifth and sixth centuries. 2 Doubtless many 
of the Druids became monks. 

Christianity came to the Irish as a new ardour, effacing 
none of their characteristics. Irish monks and Irish saints 
were as irascible as Irish bards and Saga heroes. The 
Irish temper lived on in St. Columba of Iona and St. 
Columbanus of Luxeuil and Bobbio. Both of these men 
left Ireland to spread monastic Christianity, and also because, 
as Irishmen, they loved to rove, like their forefathers. 
Christianity furnished this Irish propensity with a definite 
aim in the mission-passion to convert the heathen. It 
likewise brought the ascetic hermit-passion, which drove 
these travel-loving islanders over the sea in search of 
solitude ; and so a yearning came on Irish monks to sail 
forth to some distant isle and gain within the seclusion 
of the sea a hermitage beyond the reach of man. There 
are many stories of these explorers. They sailed along 
the Hebrides, they settled on the Shetland Islands, they 
reached the Faroes, and even brought back news of Iceland. 
But before the seventh century closed, their sea hermitages 

1 See D'Arbois de Jubainville, Introduction a la litt. celtiqite, pp. 259-271 (Paris, 

2 See D'Arbois de Jubainville, Introduction, etc., p. 129 sqq. ; Bertrand, La 
Religion des Gaulois, chap. xx. (Paris, 1897). Also O'Curry, ox. passim, 


were harried by Norsemen who were sailing upon quite 
different ventures. From an opposite direction they too had 
reached the Shetlands and the Hebrides, and had pushed 
on farther south among the islands off the west coast of 
Scotland. So there come sorry tales of monks fleeing from 
one island to another. These harryings and flights had 
gone on for a century and more before the Vikings landed 
in Ireland, apparently for the first time, in 795. 1 There 
followed two centuries of fierce struggle with the invaders, 
during which much besides blows was exchanged. Vikings 
and Irish learned from each other ; Norse strains passed 
into Irish literature, and conversely the Norse story-tellers 
probably obtained the Saga form of composition. 

The role of the Irish in the diffusion of Christianity with 
its accompaniment of Latin culture will be noted hereafter, 
and a sketch of the unquestionably Irish saint Columbanus 
will be given in illustration. A few paragraphs on his 
almost namesake of Iona, whose career hardly extended 
beyond Celtic circles, may fitly close the present chapter on 
the Celtic genius. In him is seen the truculent Irishman 
and the clan-abbot of royal birth, violent, dominating by 
his impetuosity and the strident fervour of his voice ; also 
the saint, devoted, loving, to his followers. Colum, 2 sur- 
named Cille, " of the church," from his incessant devotions, 

1 For this whole story see H. Zimmer, " liber die friihesten Beruhrungen der 
Iren mit den Nordgermanen," Sitzungsbericht der Preussischen Akad., 1891 (1), 
pp. 279-317. 

2 For the life of Saint Columba the chief source is the Vita by Adamnan, his 
eighth successor as abbot of Iona. It contains well-drawn sketches of the saint 
and much that is marvellous and incredible. It was edited with elaborate notes 
by Dr. W. Reeves, for the Irish Archaeological Society, in 1857. His work, 
rearranged and with a translation of the Vita, was republished as Vol. VI. of 
The Historians of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1874) ; it has also been edited by J. T. 
Fowler (Oxford, 1894). The Vita may also be found in Migne, Patrologia Latina, 
88, col. 725-776. Bede, Ecc. Hist. iii. 4, refers to Columba. The Gaelic life from 
the Book of Lismore is published, with a translation by M. Stokes, Anecdota 
Oxoniensia (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1890). The Bodleian Eulogy, i.e. the Antra 
Choluim chille, was published, with translation by M. Stokes, in Revue celtique, 
t. xx. (1899) ; as to its date, see Rev. celtique, t. xvii. p. 41. Another (later) Gaelic 
life has been published by R. Henebry in the Zeitschrift filr celtische Philologie, 
1901, and later. There is an interesting article on the hymns ascribed to Columba 
in Blackwood's Magazine for September 1899. See also Cuissard, Rev. celtique, 
t. v. p. 207. The hymns themselves are in Dr. Todd's Liber Hymnorum. Monta- 
lembert's Monks of the West, book ix. (vol. iii. Eng. trans.), gives a long, readable, 
and uncritical account of " St. Columba, the Apostle of Caledonia." 

chap. vn CELTIC STRAINS 135 

and by his Latin name known as Columba, was born at 
Gartan, Donegal, in the extreme north-west of Ireland, 
about the year 520. His family was chief in that part of the 
country, and through both his parents he was descended 
from kings. He does not belong to those early Irish saints 
represented by Patrick and his storied coadjutors of both 
sexes, whose missionary activities were not constrained 
within any ascetic rule ; but to the later generation who 
lived in those monastic communities which were so very 
typically Irish. 1 

Columba appears to have passed his youth wandering 
from one monastery to another, and his manhood in founding 
them. But so strong a nature could not hold aloof from the 
wars of his clan, which belonged to the northern branch of 
the Hy-neill race, then maintaining its independence against 
the southern branch. The head of the latter was that very 
King Dermot (usually called Diarmaid or Diarmuid) against 
whom St. Ruadhan 2 and the clergy fasted and rang their 

1 The Irish monastery was ordered as an Irish clan, and indeed might be a 
clan monastically ordered. At the head was an abbot, not elected by the monks, 
but usually appointed by the preceding abbot from his own family, as an Irish 
king appointed his successor. The monks ordinarily belonged to the abbot's clan. 
They lived in an assemblage of huts. Some devoted themselves to contemplation, 
prayer, and writing ; more to manual labour. There were recluses among 
them. Besides the monks other members of the clan living near the " monastery " 
owed it duties and were entitled to its protection and spiritual ministration. 
The abbot might be an ordained priest ; he rarely was a bishop, though he had 
bishops under him who at his bidding performed such episcopal functions as that 
of ordination. But he was the ruler, lay as well as spiritual. Not infrequently 
he also was a king. Although there was no common ordering of Irish monasteries, 
a head monastery might bear rule over its daughter foundations, as did Columba's 
primal monastery of Iona over those in Ireland or Northern Britain which owed 
their origin to him. Irish monasteries might march with their clan on military 
expeditions, or carry on a war of monastery against monastery. " a.d. 763. A 
battle was fought at Argamoyn, between the fraternities of Clonmacnois and 
Durrow, where Dermod Duff, son of Donnell, was killed with 200 men of the 
fraternity of Durrow. Bresal, son of Murchadh, with the fraternity of Clonmacnois, 
was victor " (Ancient Annals). This entry is not alone, for there is another one 
of the year 816, in which a " fraternity of Columcille " seems to have been worsted 
in battle, and then to have gone " to Tara to curse " the reigning king. See 
Reeve's Adamnan's Life of Columba, p. 255. Of course Irish armies felt no qualms 
at sacking the monasteries and slaying the monks of another kingdom. The 
sanctuaries of Clonmacnois, Kildare, Clonard, Armagh were plundered as readily 
by " Christian " Irishmen as by heathen Danes. In the ninth century, Phelim, 
King of Munster, was an abbot and a bishop too ; but he sacked the sacred places 
of Ulster and killed their monks and clergy. See G. T. Stokes, Ireland and the 
Celtic Church ; Killen, Eccl. Hist, of Ireland, vol. i. p. 145 sqq. 

2 The title of saint is regularly given to the higher clergy of this period in Ireland. 


bells. Columba appears to have had no part in the cursing 
of Tara. But Dermot was the king against whom the wars 
of his family were waged, and all the traditions point to the 
saint as their instigator. The account given by Keating, 
the seventeenth century historian of Gaelic Ireland, is 
curious. 1 

" Diarmuid . . . King of Ireland, made the Feast of Tara, and 
a nobleman was killed at that feast by Curran, son of Aodh ; 
wherefore Diarmuid killed him in revenge for that, because he 
committed murder at the Feast of Tara, against the law and the 
sanctuary of the feast ; and before Curran was put to death he 
fled to the protection of Colum-Cille, and notwithstanding the 
protection of Colum-Cille he was killed by Diarmuid. And from 
that it arose that Colum-Cille mustered the Clanna Neill of the 
North, because his own protection and the protection of the sons 
of Earc was violated. Whereupon the battle of Cul Dreimhne 
was gained over Diarmuid and over the Connaughtmen, so that 
they were defeated through the prayer of Colum-Cille." 

Keating adds that another book relates another cause of 
this battle, to wit : 

"... the false judgment which Diarmuid gave against Colum- 
Cille when he wrote the gospel out of the book of Finnian without 
his knowledge. 2 Finnian said that it was to himself belonged 
the son-book which was written from his book, and they both 
selected Diarmuid as judge between them. This is the decision 
that Diarmuid made : that to every book belongs its son-book, 
as to every cow belongs her calf." 

Less consistent is the tradition that Columba left Ireland 
because of the sentence passed upon him by certain of his 
fellow-saints, as penance for the bloodshed which he had 
occasioned. Indeed, for his motives one need hardly look 
beyond the desire to spread the Gospel, and the passion 
of the Irish monk peregrinam ducere vitam. Reaching the 
west of Scotland, Columba was granted that rugged little 
island then called Hy, but Iova afterwards, and now Iona. 
This was in 563, and he continued abbot of Hy until his 

1 " The History of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating " in the original Gaelic with an 
English translation, by Comyn and Dineen (Irish Texts Society. David Nutt, 
London, 1902- 1908). 

2 This means that he copied a manuscript belonging to Finnian. 

chap, vii CELTIC STRAINS 137 

death in 597. Not that he stayed there all these years, 
for he moved about ceaselessly, founding churches among 
the Picts and Scots. Some thirty foundations are attributed 
to him, besides his thirty odd in Ireland. 

Adamnan's Vita largely consists of stories of the saint's 
miracles and prophecies and the interpositions of Providence 
in his behalf. It nevertheless gives a consistent picture of 
this man of powerful frame and mighty voice, restless and 
unrestrained, ascetically tempered, working always for the 
spread of his religion. We see him compelling men to set 
sail with him despite the tempest, or again rushing into " the 
green glass water up to his knees " to curse a plunderer in 
the name of Christ. " He was not a gentle hero," says an 
old Gaelic Eulogy. Yet if somewhat quick to curse, he 
was still readier to bless, and if he could be masterful, his 
life had its own humility. " Surely it was great lowliness 
in Colomb Cille that he himself used to take off his monks' 
sandals and wash their feet for them. He often used to 
carry his portion of corn on his back to the mill, and grind 
it and bring it home to his house. He never used to put 
linen or wool against his skin. His side used to come 
against the bare mould." * 

So this impetuous life passes before our eyes filled with 
adventure, touched with romance, its colours heightened 
through tradition. As it draws to its close the love in it 
seems to exceed the wrath ; and thus it ends : as the old 
man was resting himself the day before his death, seated by 
the barn of the monastery, the white work-horse came and 
laid its head against his breast. Late the same night, 
reclining on his stone bed he spoke his last words, enjoining 
peace and charity among the monks. Rising before dawn, 
he entered the church alone, knelt beside the altar, and 
there he died. 2 — His memory still hangs the peace of God 
and man over the Island of Iona. 

1 The Life of Colomb Cille from the Book of Lismore. 2 Adamnan. 



There were intellectual as well as emotional differences 
between the Celts and Teutons. A certain hard rationality 
and grasp of fact mark the mentality of the latter. On 
land or sea they view the situation, realize its opportunities., 
their own strength, and the opposing odds : with definite 
and persistent purpose they move, they fight, they labour. 
The quality of purposefulness becomes clearer as they emerge 
from the forest obscurity of their origins into the open light 
of history. To a definite goal of conquest and settlement 
Theodoric led the Ostrogoths from Moesia westward, and 
fought his way into Italy. With persistent purposefulness 
Clovis and his Merovingian successors intrigued and fought. 
Among Anglo-Saxon pirates the aim of plunder quickly 
grew to that of conquest. And in times which were to 
follow, there was purpose in every voyage and battle of the 
Vikings. The Teutons disclose more strength and per- 
sistency of desire than the Celts. Their feelings were 
slower, less impulsive ; also less quickly diverted, more 
unswerving, even fiercer in their strength. The general 
characteristic of Teutonic emotion is its close connection 
with some motive grounded in rational purpose. 

Caesar's short sketch of the Germans l gives the impres- 
sion of barbarous peoples, numerous, brave, overweening. 
They had not reached the agricultural stage, but were 
devoted to war and hunting. There weje n^Druids among 

1 B.G. iv. 1-3 ; vi. 21-28. For convenience I use the word Teuton as the 
general term and German as relating to the Teutons of the lands still kiown as 
German. But with reference to the times of Caesar and Tacitus the latter word 
must be taken generally. 


chap, vui TEUTON QUALITIES 139 

them. Their bodies were inured to hardship. They lived 
in robust independence, and were subject to their chiefs 
only in war. Their fiercest folk, the Suevi, from boyhood 
would submit neither to labour nor discipline, that their 
strength and spirit might be unchecked. It was deemed 
shameful for a youth to have to do with women before his 
twentieth year. 

The Roman world knew more about these Germans by 
the year a.d. 99 when Tacitus composed his Germania. 
They had scarcely yet turned to agriculture. Respect for 
women appears clearly. These barbarians are most reluctant 
to give their maidens as hostages ; they listen to their 
women's voices and deem that there is something holy and 
prophetic in their nature. Upon marriage, oxen, a horse, 
and shield and lance make up the husband's morgengabe to 
his bride : she is to have part in her husband's valour. 
Fornication and adultery are rare, the adulteress is ruthlessly 
punished ; men and maidens marry late. The men of the 
tribe decide important matters, which, however, the chiefs 
have previously discussed apart. The people sit down 
armed ; the priests proclaim silence ; the king or war- 
leader is listened to, and the assembly is swayed by his 
persuasion and repute. They dissent with murmurs, or 
assent brandishing their spears. There is thus participa- 
tion by the tribe, and yet deference to reputation. This 
description discloses Teutonic freedom as different from 
Celtic political unrestraint. Tacitus also speaks of the 
Germanic Comitatus, consisting of a chief and a band of 
youths drawn together by his repute, who fight by his side 
and are disgraced if they survive him dead upon the field. 
In time of peace they may seek another leader from a tribe 
at war ; for the Germans are impatient of peace and toil, 
and slothful except when fighting or hunting. They had 
further traits and customs which are barbaric rather than 
specifically Teutonic : cruelty and faithlessness toward 
enemies, feuds, wergeld, drinking bouts, gambling, slavery, 
absence of testaments. 

Between the time of Tacitus and the fifth century many 
changes came over the Teuton tribes. Early tribal names 
vanished, while a regrouping into larger and apparently 


more mobile aggregates took place. The obscure revolutions 
occurring in Central Europe in the second, third, and fourth 
centuries do not indicate social progress, but rather retro- 
gression from an almost agricultural state toward stages of 
migratory unrest. 1 We have already noted the fortunes 
of those tribes that helped to barbarize and disrupt the 
Roman Empire, and lost themselves among the Romance 
populations of Italy, Gaul, and Spain. We are here con- 
cerned with those that preserved their native speech and 
qualities, and as Teuton peoples became contributories to 
the currents of mediaeval evolution. 

When the excellent Apollinaris Sidonius, writing in the 
middle of the fifth century to a young friend about to enter 
the Roman naval service off the coasts of Gaul, characterized 
the Saxon pirates as the fiercest and most treacherous of 
foes, whose way is to dash upon their prey amid the tempest, 
and for whom shipwreck is a school, he spoke truly, and 
also illustrated the difference that lies in point of view. 2 
Fierce they were, and hardy seamen, likewise treacherous in 
Roman eyes, and insatiate plunderers. From the side of 
the sea they represented the barbarian disorder threaten- 
ing the world. The Roman was scarcely interested in the 
fact that these men kept troth among themselves with 
energy and sacrifice of life. The Saxons, Angles, Jutes, 
whose homes ashore lay between the Weser and the Elbe and 
through Sleswig, Holstein, and Denmark, possessed interest- 
ing qualities before they landed in Britain, where under 
novel circumstances they were to develop their character 
and institutions with a rapidity that soon raised them above 
the condition of their kin who had stayed at home. Bands 
of them had touched Britain before the year 411, when the 
Roman legions were withdrawn. But it was only with the 
landing of Hengest and Horsa in 449 that they began to 

1 These views are set forth brilliantly, but with exaggeration, by Fustel de 
Coulanges, in L' Invasion germanique, vol. ii. of his Institutions politiques, etc. 
(revised edition, Paris, 1891). 

2 Apoll. Sid. Epist. viii. 6 (Migne, Pat. Lat. 58, col. 697). 

chap, viii TEUTON QUALITIES 141 

come in conquering force. The Anglo-Saxon conquest of 
the island went on for two centuries. Information regard- 
ing it is of the scantiest ; but the Britons seem to have 
been submerged or driven westward. There is at least no 
evidence of any friendly mingling of the races. The invaders 
accepted neither Christianity nor Roman culture from the 
conquered, and Britain became a heathen England. 

. While these Teuton peoples were driving through their 
conquest and also fighting fiercely with each other, their 
characters and institutions were becoming distinctively 
Anglo-Saxon. Under stress of ceaseless war, military leaders 
became hereditary kings, whose powers, at least in intervals 
of peace, were controlled by the Witan or Council of the 
Wise, and limited by the jurisdiction of the Hundred Court. 
Likewise the temporary ties of the Teutonic Comitatus 
became permanent in the body of king's companions (thegns, 
thanes), whose influence was destined to supplant that of 
the eorls, the older nobility of blood. The Comitatus 
principle pervades Anglo-Saxon history as well as literature ; 
it runs through the Beowulf epic ; Anglo-Saxon Biblical 
versifiers transfer it to the followers of Abraham and the 
disciples of Christ ; and every child knows the story of 
Lilla, faithful thegn, who flung himself between his 
Northumbrian king, Edwin, and the sword of the assassin 
— the latter sent by a West Saxon king and doubtless one 
of his faithful thegns. Their law consisted mainly in the 
graded wergeld for homicide, in an elaborate tariff of com- 
pensation for personal injuries, and in penalties for cattle- 
raiding. Beyond the matter of theft, property law was 
still unwritten custom, and contract law did not exist. 
The rules of procedure, for instance in the Hundred Court, 
were elaborate, as is usual in a primitive society where the 
substantial rights are simple, and the important thing is to 
induce the parties to submit to an adjudication. Similar 
Teutonic customs obtained elsewhere. But the course of 
their development in Saxon England displays an ever clearer 
recognition of fundamental principles of English law : 
justice is public ; the parties immediately concerned must 
bring the case to court and there conduct it according to 
rules of procedure ; the court of freemen hear and determine, 


but do not extend the inquiry beyond the evidence adduced 
before them ; to interpret and declare the law is the function 
of the court, not of the king and his officers. 1 

During these first centuries in England, the Anglo- 
Saxon endowment of character and faculty becomes clearly 
shown in events and expressed in literature. A battle- 
loving people whose joy in fight flashes from their " shield- 
play " and " sword-game " epithets, even as their fondness 
for seafaring is seen in such phrases as " wave-floater," 
" foam-necked," " like a swan " breasting the " swan-road " 
of the sea. But their sword-games and wave-floatings had 
purpose, a quality that became large and steady as genera- 
tion after generation, unstopped by fortress, forest, or river, 
pushed on the conquest of England. When that conquest 
had been completed, and these Saxons were in turn hard 
pressed by their Danish kin more lately sailing from the 
north, their courage still could not be overborne. It is 
reflected in the overweening mood of Maldon, the poem 
which is also called The Death of Byrhtnoth. The cold grey 
scene lies in the north of England. The Viking invaders 
demand rings of gold ; Byrhtnoth, the Alderman of the 
East Saxons, retorts scornfully. So the fight begins with 
arrows and spear throwings across the black water. The 
Saxons hold the ford. The Sea-wolves cannot force it. 
They call for leave to cross. In his overmood Byrhtnoth 
answers : "To you this is yielded : come straightway to 
us ; God only wots who shall hold fast the place of battle." 
In the bitter end when Byrhtnoth is killed, still speaks his 
thane : " Mind shall the harder be, heart the keener, mood 
the greater, as our might lessens. Here lies our Elder hewn 
to death. I am old ; I will not go hence. I think to lay 
me down by the side of my lord." 

The spiritual gifts of the Anglo-Saxons are discernible 
in their language, which so adequately could render the 
Bible 2 and the phraseology of the Seven Liberal Arts. 

1 See Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law ; and Pollock, English 
Law before the Norman Conquest, Law Quarterly Review. 

2 The ancient Anglo-Saxon version is Anglo-Saxon through and through. 
The considerable store of Latin (or Greek) words retained by the " authorized " 
English version (for example, Scripture, Testament, Genesis, Exodus, etc., 
prophet,, evangelist, religion, conversion, adoption, temptation, redemption, 

chap, vm TEUTON QUALITIES 143 

Its terms were somewhat more concrete and physical than 
the Latin, but readily lent themselves to figurative meanings. 
More palpably the poetry with its reflection upon life shows 
the endowment of the race. Its elegiac mood is marked. 
In an old poem is heard the voice of one who sails with 
hapless care the exile's way, and must forego his dear lord's 
gifts : in sleep he kisses him, and again lays hands and head 
upon those knees, as in times past. Then wakes the friend- 
less man, and sees the ocean's waves, the gulls spreading 
their wings, rime and snow falling. More impersonal is 
the heavy tone of a meditative fragment over the ruins, 
apparently, of a Roman city : 

" Wondrous is this wall-stone, 
fates have broken it, 
have burst the stronghold, 
roofs are fallen, 
towers tottering, 
hoar gate-towers despoiled, 
shattered the battlements, 
riven, fallen. 

Earth's grasp holdeth 

the mighty workmen 

worn away, done for, 

in the hard grip of the grave." x 

But the noblest presentation of character in pagan Anglo- 
Saxon poetry is afforded by the epic poem of Beowulf, which 
tells the story of a Geatic hero who sets out for Denmark 
to slay a monster, accomplishes the feat, is nobly rewarded 
by the Danish king, and returns to rule his own people justly 
for fifty winters, when his valiant and beneficent life ends 
in a last victorious conflict with a hoard-guarding dragon. 
The myth and tradition were not peculiarly Anglo-Saxon ; 
but the finally recast and finished work, noble in diction, 
sentiment, and action, expresses the highest ethics of Anglo- 

salvation and damnation) were all translated into sheer Anglo-Saxon. See 
Toller, Outlines of the History of the English Language (Macmillan & Co., 1900), 
pp. 90-101. Some hundreds of years before, Ulfilas's fourth century Gothic 
translation had shown a Teutonic tongue capable of rendering the thought of 
the Pauline epistles. 

1 Cf. generally, R. W. Chambers, Widsith (Cambridge, 1913), and W. P. Ker, 
English Literature Medieval (London, 1913). 


Saxon heathendom. Beowulf does what he ought to do, 
heroically ; and finds satisfaction and reward. He does 
not seek his pleasure, though that comes with gold and 
mead-drinking ; consciousness of deeds done bravely and 
the assurance of fame sweeten death at last. 1 

A century or more after the composition of this poem, 
there lived an Anglo-Saxon whose aims were spiritualized 
through Christianity, whose vigorous mind was broadened 
by such knowledge and philosophy as his epoch had gathered 
from antique sources, and whose energies were trained in 
generalship and the office of a king. He presents a life 
intrinsically good and true, manifesting itself in warfare 
against heathen barbarism and in endeavour to rule his 
people righteously and enlarge their knowledge. Many 
of the qualities and activities of Alfred had no place in the 
life of Beowulf. Yet the heathen hero and the Christian 
king were hewn from the same rock of Saxon manhood. 
Alfred's life was established upon principles of right conduct 
generically the same as those of the poem. But Christianity, 
experience, contact with learned men, and education through 
books, had informed him of man's spiritual nature, and 
taught him that human welfare depends on knowledge 
and intent and will. Accordingly, his beneficence does 
not stop with the armed safe-guarding of his realm, but 
seeks to compass the instruction of those who should have 
knowledge in order the better to guide the faith and conduct 
of the people. " He seems to me a very foolish man and 
inexcusable, who will not increase his knowledge the while 
that he is in this world, and always wish and will that he 
may come to the everlasting life where nothing shall be dark 
or unknown." 2 


In spite of the general Teutonic traits and customs which 
the Germans east and west of the Rhine possessed in common 

1 See the " Beowulf " translated in Gummere's Oldest English Epic (Macmillan, 

2 This is the closing sentence of Alfred's Blossoms, culled from divers sources. 
Hereafter (Chapter IX.) when speaking of the introduction of antique and Christian 
culture there will be occasion to note more specifically what Alfred accomplished 
in his attempt to increase knowledge throughout his kingdom. 

chap, vin TEUTON QUALITIES 145 

with the Anglo-Saxons, distinct qualities appear in the one 
and the other from the moment of our nearer acquaintance 
with their separate history and literature. So scanty, 
however, are the literary remains of German heathendom 
that recourse must be had to Christian productions to 
discover, for example, that with the Germans the sentiment 
of home and its dear relationships x is as marked as the 
Anglo-Saxon's elegiac meditative mood. Language bears 
its witness to the spiritual endowment of both peoples. 
The German dialects along the Rhine were rich in abstract 
nouns ending in ung and keit and schaft and turn? 

There remains one piece of untouched German heathenism, 
the Hildebrandslied, which dates from the end of the eighth 
century, and may possibly be the sole survivor of a collection 
of German poems made at Charlemagne's command. 3 It is 
a tale of single combat between a father and son, the counter- 
part of which is found in the Persian, Irish, and Norse 
literatures. Such an incident might be diversely rendered ; 
armies might watch their champions engage, or the combat 
might occur unwitnessed in some mountain gorge ; it might 
be described pathetically or in warrior mood, and the heroes 
might fight in ignorance, or one of them know well, who was 
the man confronting him. In German, this story is a part 
of that huge mass of legend which grew up around the 
memory of the terrible Hun Attila, and transformed him to 
the Atli of Norse literature, and to the worthy King Etzel of 
the Nibelungenlied, at whose Court the flower of Burgundian 
chivalry went down in that fierce feud in which Etzel had 
little part. Among his vassal kings appears the mighty 
exile Dietrich of Bern, who in the Nibelungen reluctantly 
overcomes the last of the Burgundian heroes. This Dietrich 
is none other than Theodoric the Ostrogoth, transformed in 
legend and represented as driven from his kingdom of Italy 
by Odoacer, and for the time forced to take refuge with 

1 See e.g. in Otfried's Evangelienbuch, post, p. 203. 

2 For example : skidunga (Scheidung), saligheit (Seligkeit), fiantscaft (Feind- 
schaft), heidantuom (Heidentum). By the eighth century the High German of 
the Bavarians and Alemanni began to separate from the Low German of the lower 
Rhine, spoken by Saxons and certain of the Franks. The greater part of the 
Frankish tribes, and the Thuringians, occupied intermediate sections of country 
and spoke dialects midway between Low German and High. 

3 Text in Piper's Die dlteste Literatur (Deutsche National Lit.). 



Etzel ; for the legend was not troubled by the fact that 
Attila was dead before Theodoric was born. Bern is the 
name given to Verona, and legend saw Theodoric's castle 
in that most beautiful of Roman amphitheatres, where the 
traveller still may sit and meditate on many things. It is 
told also that Theodoric recovered his kingdom in the 
legendary Rabenschlacht fought by Ravenna's walls. Old 
Hildebrand was his master-at-arms, who had fled with him. 
In the Nibelungen it is he that cuts down Kriemhild, Etzel' s 
queen, before the monarch's eyes ; for he could not endure 
that a woman's hand had slain Gunther and Hagen, whom, 
exhausted at last, Dietrich's strength had set before her 
helpless and bound. And now, after years of absence, he 
has recrossed the mountains with his king come to claim his 
kingdom, and before the armies he challenges the champion 
of the opposing host. Here the Old German poem, which 
is called the Hildebrandslied, takes up the story : 

" Hildebrand spoke, the wiser man, and asked as to the other's 
father — ' Or tell me of what race art thou ; 'twill be enough ; 
every one in the realm is known to me.' 

" Hadubrand spoke, Hildebrand's son : ' Our people, the old 
and knowing of them, tell me Hildebrand was my father's name ; 
mine is Hadubrand. Aforetime he fled to the east, from Otacher's 
hate, fled with Dietrich and his knights. He left wife to mourn, 
and ungrown child. Dietrich's need called him. He was always 
in the front ; fighting was dear to him. I do not believe he is 

" ' God forbid, from heaven above, that thou shouldst wage 
fight with so near kin.' He took from his arm the ring given by 
the king, lord of the Huns. ' Lo ! I give it thee graciously.' 

" Hadubrand spoke : ' With spear alone a man receives gift, 
point against point. Too cunning art thou, old Hun. Beguiling 
me with words thou wouldst thrust me with thy spear. Thou art 
so old — thou hast a trick in store. Seafaring men have told me 
Hildebrand is dead.' 

" Hildebrand spoke : ' O mighty God, a drear fate happens. 
Sixty summers and winters, ever placed by men among the spear- 
men, I have so borne myself that bane got I never. Now shall 
my own child smite me with the sword, or I be his death.' ' 

There is a break here in the poem ; but the uncon- 
trolled son evidently taunted the father with cowardice. 
The old warrior cries : 

chap, vm TEUTON QUALITIES 147 

" ' Be he the vilest of all the East people who now would refuse 
thee the fight thou hankerest after. Happen it and show which of 
us must give up his armour.' " 

The end fails, but probably the son was slain. 

Stubborn and grim appears the Old German character. 
Point to point shall foes exchange gifts. Such also was 
the way when a lord made reward ; on the spear's point 
presenting the arm-ring to him who had served, he accepting 
it in like fashion, each on his guard perhaps. The Hilde- 
brandslied exhibits other qualities of the German spirit, for 
instance its bluntness and lack of tact ; even its clumsiness is 
evinced in the seventy lines of the poem, which although 
broken is not a fragment, but a short poem — a ballad grace- 
less and shapeless because of its stiff unvarying lines. 

In a later poem, which gives the story of Walter of 
Aquitaine, the same set and stubborn mood appears, 
although lightened by rough banter. This legend existed 
in Old German as well as Anglo - Saxon. In the tenth 
century, Ekkehart, a monk of St. Gall, freely altering and 
adding to the tale, made of it the small Latin epic which is 
extant. 1 Monk as he was, he tells a spirited story in his 
rugged hexameters. He had studied classic authors to good 
purpose ; and his poem of Walter fleeing with his love 
Hildegund from the Hunnish Court (for the all-pervasive 
Attila is here also) is vivid, diversified, well-constructed — 
qualities which may not have been in the story till he 
remodelled it. Its leading incidents still present German 
traits. Walter and Hildegund carry off a treasure in their 
flight ; and it is to get this treasure that Gunther urges 
Hagen (for they are here too) to attack the fugitive. This 
is Teutonic. It was for plunder that Teuton tribes fought 
their bravest fights from the time of Alaric and Genseric to 
the Viking age, and the hoard has a great part in Teutonic 
story. In the Waltarius Gunther's driving avarice, Walter's 

1 On the Waltari poem, see Ebert, Allgemeine Gesch. der Literatur des Mittel- 
alters, Bd. iii. 264-276 ; also K. Strecker, " Probleme in der Walthariusforschung," 
Neue Jahrbucher fiir klass. Altertumsgesch. und Deutsche Literatur, 2te Jahrgang 
(Leipzig, 1899), pp. 573-594, 629-645. The author is called Ekkehart I. (d. 973), 
being the first of the celebrated monks bearing that name at St. Gall. The poem 
is edited by Peiper (Berlin, 1873), by Scheffel and Holder (Stuttgart, 1874), and 
by Althof (Leipzig, 1896) ; it is translated into German by San Marte (Magdeburg, 
I 853), and by Althof (Leipzig, 1902). 


stubborn defence of his gold are Teutonic. The humour 
and the banter are more distinctly German, and nobly 
German is the relationship of trust and honour between 
Walter and the maiden who is fleeing with him. Yet the 
story does not revolve around the woman in it, but rather 
around the shrewdly got and bravely guarded treasure. 

German traits obvious in the Hildebrandslied, and strong 
through the Latin of the Waltarius, evince themselves in the 
epic of the Nibelungenlied and in the Kudrun, often called 
its companion piece. The former holds the strength of 
German manhood and the power of German hate, with the 
edged energy of speech accompanying it. In the latter, 
German womanhood is at its best. Both poems, in their 
extant form, belong to the middle or latter part of the 
twelfth century, and are not unaffected by influences which 
were not native German. 

The Nibelungenlied is but dimly reminiscent of any 
bygone love between Siegfried and Brunhilde, and carries 
within its own narrative a sufficient explanation of Brun- 
hilde's jealous anger and Siegfried's death. Kriemhild is 
left to nurse the wrath which shall never cease to devise 
vengeance for her husband's murderers. Years afterwards, 
Hagen warns Gunther, about to accept Etzel's invitation, 
that Kriemhild is lancraeche (long vengeful). The course of 
that vengeance is told with power ; for the constructive soul 
of a race contributed to this Volksepos. The actors in the 
tragedy are strikingly drawn and contrasted, and are lifted 
in true epic fashion above the common stature by intensity 
of feeling and the power of will to realize through unswerving 
action the promptings of their natures. The fatefulness of 
the tale is true to tragic reality, in which the far results of 
an ill deed involve the innocent with the guilty. 

A comparison of the poem with the Hildebrandslied 
shows that the sense of the pathetic had deepened in the 
intervening centuries. There is scarcely any pathos in the 
earlier composition, although its subject is the fatal combat 
between father and son. But the Nibelungen, with a fiercer 
hate, can set forth the heroic pathos of the lot of one, who, 
struggling between fealties, is driven on to dishonour and to 
death. This is the pathos of the death of Riidiger, who had 

chap, vin TEUTON QUALITIES 149 

received the Burgundians in his castle on their way to Etzel's 
Court, had exchanged gifts with them, and betrothed his 
daughter to the youngest of the three kings. He was as 
unsuspecting as Etzel of Kriemhild's plot. But in the end 
Kriemhild forces him, on his fealty as liegeman, to outrage 
his heart and honour, and attack those whom he had sheltered 
and guided onward — to their death. 

Not much love in this tale, only hate insatiable. But 
the greatness of hate may show the passional power of the 
hating soul. The centuries have raised to high relief the 
elemental Teutonic qualities of hate, greed, courage and 
devotion, and human personality has enlarged with the 
heightened power of will. The reader is affected with 
admiration and sympathy. First he is drawn to Siegfried's 
bright morning courage, his noble masterfulness — his 
character appears touched with the ideal§ of chivalry. 1 
After his death the interest turns to Kriemhild planning for 
revenge. It may be that sympathy is repelled as her hate 
draws within its tide so much of guiltlessness and honour ; 
and as the doomed Nibelungen heroes show themselves 
haughty, strong-handed, and stout-hearted to the end, he 
cheers them on, and most heartily that grim, consistent 
Hagen in whom the old German troth and treachery for 
troth's sake are incarnate. 

The Kudrun 2 is a happier story, ending in weddings 
instead of death. There was no licentiousness or infidelity 
between man and wife in the Nibelungen, and through all 
its hate and horror no outrage is done to woman's honour. 
That may be taken as the leading theme of the Kudrun. 
An ardent wooer, to be sure, may seize and carry off the 
heroine, and his father drag her by the hair on her refusal to 
wed his son ; but her honour, and the honour of all women 

1 The description of Siegfried's love for Kriemhild is just touched by the 
chivalric love, which exists in Wolfram's Parzival, in Gottfried's Tristan, and of 
course in their French models. See post, Chapter XXIV. For example, as he 
first sees her who was to be to him " beide lieb und leit," he becomes " bleich 
unde rot " ; and at her greeting, his spirit is lifted up : " do wart im von dem 
gruoze vil wol gehoehet der muot." And the scene is laid in May (Nibelungen- 
lied, Aventiure V., stanzas 284, 285, 292, 295). 

2 A convenient edition of the Kudrun is Pfeiffer's in Deutsche Klassiker des 
Mittelalters (Leipzig, 1880). Under the name of Gudrun it is translated into 
modem German by Simrock, and into English by M. P. Nichols (Boston, 1899). 


in the poem, is respected and maintained. The ideal of 
womanhood is noble throughout : an old king thus bids 
farewell to his daughter on setting forth to be married : 
" You shall so wear your crown that I and your mother may 
never hear that any one hates you. Rich as you are, it 
would mar your fame to give any occasion for blame." 1 

A mediaeval epic may tell of the fortunes of several 
generations, and the Kudrun devotes a number of books to 
the heroine's ancestors, making a half-savage narrative, in 
which one feels a conflict between ancient barbarities and a 
newer and more courtly order. When the venturesome 
wooing and wedded fortune of Kudrun's mother have been 
told, the poem turns to its chief heroine, who grows to 
stately maidenhood, and becomes betrothed to a young 
king, Herwig. A rejected wooer, the " Norman " Prince 
Hartmuth, by a sudden descent upon the land in the absence 
of its defenders, carries off Kudrun and her women by force 
of arms, and the king, her father, is killed in an abortive 
attempt to recapture her. In Hartmuth's castle by the sea 
Kudrun spends bitter years waiting for deliverance. His 
sister, Ortrun, is kind to her, but his mother, Gerlint, treats 
her shamefully. The maiden is steadfast. Between her and 
Hartmuth stands a double barrier : his father had killed 
hers ; she was betrothed to Herwig. Hartmuth repels his 
wicked mother's advice to force her to his will. In his 
absence on a foray Gerlint compels Kudrun to do unfitting 
tasks. Hartmuth, returning, asks her : " Kudrun, fair 
lady, how has it been with you while I and my knights were 
away ? " 

" Here I have been forced to serve, to your sin and my 

1 Kudrun, viii. 558. Whatever may have been the facts of German life in 
the Middle Ages, the literature shows respect for marriage and woman's virtue. 
This remark applies not only to those works of the Middle High German tongue 
which are occupied with themes of Teutonic origin, but also to those — Wolfram's 
Parzival, for example — whose foreign themes do not force the poet to magnify 
adulterous love. When, however, that is the theme of the story,' the German 
writer, as in Gottfried's Tristan, does not fail to do it justice. 

Willmans, in his Leben und Dichtung Walthers von der Vogelweide (Bonn, 1882), 
note ia on page 328, cites a number of passages from Middle High German works 
on the serious regard for marriage held by the Germans. Even the German 
minnesingers sometimes felt the contradiction between the broken marriage vow 
and" the ennobling nature of chivalric love. See Willmans, ibid. p. 162 and 
note 7. 

chap, vm TEUTON QUALITIES 151 

shame," *• answers Kudrun — a great answer, in its truth and 

After an interval of kind treatment the old " she-wolf " 
Gerlint sets Kudrun with her faithful Hildeburg to washing 
clothes in the sea. It is winter ; their garments are mean, 
their feet are naked. They see a boat approaching, in which 
are Kudrun's brother Ortwin, and Herwig her betrothed, who 
had come before their host as spies. A recognition follows ; 
Herwig is for carrying them off ; Ortwin forbids it. " With 
open force they were taken ; my hand shall not steal them 
back " ; dear as Kudrun is, he can take her only nach By en 
(as becomes his honour). When they have gone, Kudrun 
throws the clothes to be washed into the sea. " No more 
will I wash for Gerlint ; two kings have kissed me and held 
me in their arms." 

Kudrun returns to the castle, which soon is stormed. 
She saves Hartmuth and his sister from the slaughter, and 
all sail home, where the thought is now of wedding festivals. 
Kudrun is married to Herwig ; at her advice Ortwin weds 
Ortrun, and then she thinks of Hartmuth's plight, and asks 
her friend Hildeburg whether she will have him for a husband. 
Hildeburg consents. Kudrun commands that Hartmuth 
be brought, and bids him be seated by the side of her dear 
friend " who had washed clothes along with her ! " 

" Queen, you would reproach me with that. I grieved 
at the shame they put on you. It was kept from me." 

" I cannot let it pass. I must speak with you alone, 

" God grant she means well with me," thought he. She 
took him aside and spoke : "If you will do as I bid, you 
will part with your troubles." 

Hartmuth answered : "I know you are so noble that 
your behest can be only honourable and good. I can find 
nothing in my heart to keep me from doing your bidding 
gladly, Queen." 2 The high quality of speech between these 
two will rarely be outdone. 

There is directness and troth in all these German poems. 
Troth is an ideal which must carry truth within it. The 
more thoughtful and reflecting German spirit will evince 

1 Kudrun, xx. 1013. 2 Kudrun, xxx. 1632 sqq. 


loyalty to truth itself as an ideal. Wolfram's poem of 
Parzival has this ; and by virtue of this same ideal, Walter 
von der Vogelweide's judgments upon life and emperors and 
popes are whole and steady, unveiling the sham, condemning 
the lie and defying the liar. 1 In them dawns the spirit of 
Luther and the German Reformation, with its love of truth 
stronger than its love of art. 


Chronologically these last illustrations of German traits 
belong to the mediaeval time ; and in fact the Nibelungenlied 
and Kudrun, and much more Wolfram's Parzival and 
Walter's poems, are mediaeval, because to some extent 
affected by that interplay of influences which made the 
mediaeval genius. 2 On the other hand, the almost contem- 
poraneous Norse Sagas and the somewhat older Eddie poems 
exhibit Teutonic traits in their northern integrity. For the 
Norse period of free and independent growth continued long 
after the distinctive barbarism of other Teutons had become 
mediae valized. There resulted under the strenuous con- 
ditions of Norse life that unique heightening of energy which 
is manifested in the deeds of the Viking age and reflected in 
Norse literature. 3 

This time of extreme activity opens in the eighth century, 
toward the end of which Viking ravagers began to harry 

1 As to the Parzival, and Walter's poems, see post, Chapters XXV., XXVII. 

2 Ante, Chapter I. 

3 It is not known when Teutons first entered Denmark and the Scandinavian 
peninsula. Although non- Teutonic populations may have preceded them, the 
archaeological remains do not point clearly to a succession of races, while they do 
indicate ages of stone, bronze, and iron (Sophus Muller, Nordische Altertums- 
kunde). The bronze ages began in the Northlands a thousand years or more 
before Christ. In course of time, beautiful bronze weapons show what skill the 
race acquired in working metals not found in Scandinavia, but perhaps brought 
there in exchange for the amber of the Baltic shores. The use of iron (native to 
Scandinavia) begins about 500 b.c. A progressive facility in its treatment is 
evinced down to the Christian Era. Then a foreign influence appears — Rome. 
For Roman wares entered these countries where the legionaries never set foot, 
and native handicraft copied Roman models until the fourth century, when 
northern styles reassert themselves. The Scandinavians themselves were 
unaffected by Roman wares ; but after the fifth century they began to profit from 
their intercourse with Anglo-Saxons and Irish. 

chap. viii TEUTON QUALITIES 153 

the British Isles. St. Cuthbert's holy island of Lindisfarne 
was sacked in 793, and similar raids multiplied with por- 
tentous rapidity. The coasts of Ireland and Great Britain, 
and the islands lying about them, were well plundered 
while the ninth century was young. In Ireland permanent 
conquests were made near Dublin, at Waterford, and 
Limerick. The second half of this century witnesses the 
great Danish Viking invasion of England. On the Con- 
tinent the Vikings worried the skirts of the Carolingian 
colossus, and the Lowlands suffered before Charlemagne 
was in his grave. After his death the trouble began in 
earnest. Not only the coasts were ravaged, but the river 
towns trembled, on the Elbe, the Rhine, the Somme, the 
Seine, the Loire. Paris foiled or succumbed to more than 
one fierce siege. About the middle of the ninth century the 
Vikings began to winter where they had plundered in the 

The north was ruled by chiefs and petty kings until 
Harold Fairhair overcame the chiefs of Norway and made 
himself supreme about the year 870. But he established 
his power only after great sea-fights, and many of the 
conquered, choosing exile rather than submission, took 
refuge in the Orkneys, the Faroes, and other islands. Harold 
pursued with his fleets, and forced them to further flight. 
It was this exodus from the islands and from Norway in the 
last years of the ninth century that gave Iceland the greater 
part of its population. Thither also came other bold spirits 
from the Norse holdings in Ireland. 

While these events were happening in the west, the 
Scandinavians had not failed - to push easterly. Some 
settled in Russia, by the Gulf of Finland, others along the 
south shore of the Baltic between the Vistula and Oder. 
So their holdings in the tenth century encircled the north of 
Europe ; for besides Sleswig, Denmark, and Scandinavia, 
they held the coast of Holland, also Normandy, where Rollo 
came in 912. Of insular domain, they held Iceland, parts 
of Scotland, and the islands north and west of it, some bits 
of Ireland, and much of England. Moreover, Scandinavians 
filled the Varangian corps of the Byzantine emperors, and 
old Runic inscriptions are found on marbles at Athens. 


Their narrow barks traversed the eastern Mediterranean l 
long before Norman Roger and Norman Robert conquered 
Sicily and southern Italy. Such reach of conquest shows 
them to have been moved by no passion for adventure. 
Their fierce valour was part of their great capacity for the 
strategy of war. As pirates, as invaders, as settlers, they 
dared and fought and fended for a purpose — to get what 
they wanted, and to hold it fast. When they had mastered 
the foe and conquered his land, they settled down, in England 
and Normandy and Sicily. 

Such genius for fighting was in accord with shrewdness 
and industry in peace. The Vikings laboured, whether in 
Norway or in Iceland. In the Edda the freeman learns to 
break oxen, till the ground, timber houses, build barns, 
make carts and ploughs. 2 So a tenth-century Viking king 
may be found in the field directing the cutting and stacking 
of his corn and the gathering of it into barns. They were 
also traders and even money-lenders. The Icelanders, 
whom we know so intimately from the Sagas, went regularly 
upon voyages of trade or piracy before settling down to farm 
and wife. Sharp of speech, efficient in affairs, and often 
adepts in the law, they eagerly took part in the meetings of 
the Althing and its settlement of suits. If such settlement 
was rejected, private war or the holm-gang (an appointed 
single combat on a small island) was the regular recourse. 
But it was murder to kill in the night or without previous 
notice. Nothing should be said behind an enemy's back 
that the speaker would not make good ; and every man 
must keep his plighted word. 

Much of the Norse wisdom consists in a shrewd wariness. 
Contempt for the chattering fool runs through the Edda. 3 

1 It is said that some twenty-five thousand Arabian coins, mostly of the Viking 
periods, have been found in Sweden. 

2 See Vigfusson and Powell, Corpus poeticum Boreale, i. 238. 

3 There is much controversy as to the date (the Viking Age ?) and place of origin 
(Norway, the Western Isles, or Iceland ?) of the older Eddie poems ; also as to 
the presence of Christian elements. The last are denied by MiillenhofE (Deutsche 
Altertumskunde, Bd. v., 1891) and others ; while Bugge finds them throughout 
the whole Viking mythology (Home of the Eddie Poems. London, D. Nutt, 1899), 
and Chr. Bang has endeavoured to prove that the Voluspa, the chief Eddie 
mythological poem, was an imitation of the Christian Sibyl's oracles (Christiania 
Videnskabsselskabs Forhanlinger, 1879, No. 9 ; Miillenhoff, o.c. Bd. v. p. 3 sqq.). 
Similar views are held in Vigfusson and Powell's Corpus poeticum Boreale (i. 

chap. viii TEUTON QUALITIES 155 

Let a man be chary of speech and in action unflinching. 
Eddie poetry is full of action ; even its didactic pieces are 
dramatic. The Edda is as hard as steel. In the mytho- 
logical pieces the action has the ruthlessness of the elements, 
while the stories of conduct show elemental passions working 
in elemental strength. The men and women are not rounded 
and complete ; but certain disengaged motives are raised to 
the titanic and thrown out with power. Neither present 
anguish, nor death surely foreseen, checks the course of 
vengeance for broken faith in those famous Eddie lays of 
Atli, of Sigurd and Sigrifa, Helgi and Sigrun, Brynhild and 
Gudrun, out of which the Volsunga Saga was subsequently 
put together, and to which the Nibelungenlied is kin. They 
seem to carry the same story, with change of names and 
incidents. Always the hero's fate is netted by woman's 
vengeance and the curse of the Hoard. But still the women 
feel most ; the men strike, or are struck. Hard and cold 
grey, with hidden fire, was the temper of these people. 
Their love was not over-tender, and yet stronger than death : 
cries Brynhild's ghost riding hellward, " Men and women 
will always be born to live in woe. We two, Sigurd and I, 
shall never part again." And the power of such love speaks 
in the deed and word of Sigrun, who answers the ghostly 
call of slain Helgi from his barrow, and enters it to cast her 
arms about him there : "I am as glad to meet thee as are 
the greedy hawks of Odin when they scent the slain. I will 
kiss thee, my dead king, ere thou cast off thy bloody coat. 
Thy hair, my Helgi, is thick with rime, thy body is drenched 
with gory dew, dead-cold are thy hands." 

The characters which appear in large grey traits in the 
Edda, come nearer to us in the Icelandic Sagas. The Edda 
has something of a far, unearthly gloom ; the Saga the light 
of day. Saga-folk are extraordinarily individual ; men and 
women are portrayed, body and soul, with homely, telling 

ci.-cvii. and 427). These scholars find Celtic influences in the Eddie poems. 
The whole controversy is still far from settlement. 

As for English translations of the Edda, that by B. Thorpe (Edda Saemundar) 
is difficult to obtain. Those of the Corpus poeticum Boreale are literal ; but the 
phraseology of the renderings of the mythological poems is shaped to the theory 
of Christian influence. A recent translation (1909) is that of Olive Bray (Viking 
Club), The Elder or Poetic Edda, Part I. The Mythological Poems. 


realism. Nevertheless, within a fuller round of human trait, 
Eddie qualities endure. There is the same clear purpose 
and the strong resolve, and still the deed keeps pace with 
the intent. 1 

The period which the Sagas would delineate commences 
when the Norse chiefs sail to Iceland with kith and kin and 
following to be rid of Harold Fairhair, and lasts for a century 
or more on through the time of King Olaf Tryggvason who, 
shield over head, sprang into the sea in the year iooo, and 
the life of that other Olaf, none too rightly called the Saint, 
who in 1030 perished in battle fighting against overwhelming 
odds. Following hard upon this heroic time comes the age 
of telling of it, telling of it at the midsummer Althing, telling 
of it at Yuletide feasts, and otherwise through the long 
winter nights in Iceland. These tellings are the Sagas in 
process of creation ; for a Saga is essentially a tale told by 
word of mouth to listeners. Thus pass another hundred 
years of careful telling, memorizing, and retelling of these 
tales, kept close to the old incidents and deeds, yet ever 
with a higher truth intruding. They are becoming true 

1 The best account of the Sagas, in English, is the Prolegomena to Vigfusson's 
edition of the Sturlunga Saga (Clarendon Press, 1878). Dasent's Introduction 
to his translation of the Njals Saga (Edinburgh, 1861) is instructive as to the 
conditions of life in Iceland in the early times. W. P. Ker's Epic and Romance 
(Macmillan & Co., 1897) has elaborate literary criticism upon the Sagas. The 
following is Vigfusson's : " The Saga proper is a kind of prose Epic. It has its 
fixed laws, its set phrases, its regular epithets and terms of expression, and though 
there is, as in all high literary form, an endless diversity of interest and style, yet 
there are also bounds which are never over-stepped, confining the Saga as closely as 
the employment and restrictions of verse could do. It will be best to take as the 
type the smaller Icelandic Saga, from which indeed all the later forms of composi- 
tion have sprung. This is, in its original form, the story of the life of an Icelandic 
gentleman, living some time in the tenth or eleventh centuries. It will tell first 
of his kin, going back to the settler from whom he sprung, then of his youth and 
early promise before he left his father's house to set forth on that foreign career 
which was the fitting education of the young Northern chief. These wander- 
jahre passed in trading voyages and pirate cruises, or in the service of one of 
the Scandinavian kings, as poet or henchman, the hero returns to Iceland a proved 
man, and the main part of the story thus preluded begins. It recounts in fuller 
detail and in order of time his friendships and his enmities, his exploits and re- 
nown, and finally his death ; usually concluding with the revenge taken for him 
by his kinsmen, which fitly winds up the whole. This tale is told in an earnest, 
straightforward way, as by a man talking, in short simple sentences, changing 
when the interest grows into the historic present, with here and there an ' aside ' 
of explanation put in. . . . The whole composition, grouped around a single 
man and a single place, is so well balanced and so naturally unfolded piece by piece 
that the great art shown therein often at first escapes the reader." 

chap. vin TEUTON QUALITIES 157 

to reality itself, in concrete types, and not simply narratives 
of facts actually occurring — if indeed facts ever occur in 
any such unequivocal singleness of actuality and with such 
compelling singleness of meaning, that one man shall not 
read them in one way and another otherwise. And the 
more imaginative reading may be the truer. 

This century of Saga-growth in memory and word of 
mouth came to an end, and men began to write them down. 
For still another hundred years (beginning about 1140) this 
process lasted. In its nature it was something of a re- 
modelling. As oral tales to be listened to, the Sagas had 
come to these scribe-authors, and as such the latter wrote 
them down, yet with such modification as would be involved 
in writing out for mind and eye and ear that which the ear 
had heard and the memory retained. In some instances 
the scribe-author set himself the more ambitious task of 
casting certain tales together in a single, yet composite story. 
Such is the Njala, greatest of all Sagas ; it may have been 
written about the year 1220. * 

As representative of the Norse personality, the Sagas, 

1 The Story of Burnt Njal (Njals Saga or Njala), trans, by Dasent (2 vols. 
Edinburgh, 1861). A prose narrative interspersed with occasional lyric verses 
is the form which the Icelandic Sagas have in common with the Irish. In view 
of the mutual intercourse and undoubted mingling of Norse and Celtic blood both 
in Ireland and Iceland, it is probable that the Norse Saga-form was taken from 
the Irish. But, except in the Laxdaela Saga (trans, by Mrs. Press in the Temple 
Classics, Dent, 1899), one seems to find no Celtic strain. The Sagas are the 
prose complement of the poetic Edda. Both are Norse absolutely : fruit of one 
spirit, part of one literature, a possession of one people. As to racial purity of 
blood in their authors and fashioners, or in the men of whom the tales are told, 
that is another matter. Who shall say that Celtic blood and inherited Celtic 
gifts of expression were not the leaven of this Norse literature ? But whatever 
entered into it and helped to create it, became Norse just as vitally as, ages 
before, every foreign suggestion adopted by a certain gifted Mediterranean race 
was Hellenized, and became Greek. In Iceland, in the Orkneys and the Faroes, 
Viking conditions, the Viking spirit, and Norse blood, dominated, assimilating, 
transforming and doubtless using whatever talents and capacities came within the 
vortex of Viking life. 

It may be added that there is merely an accidental likeness between the Saga 
and the Cantafable. In the Saga the verses are the utterances of the heroes 
when specially moved. One may make a verse as a short death-song when his 
death is imminent, or as a gibe on an enemy, whom he is about to attack. In the 
Cantafable — Aucassin and Nicolette, for example — the verses are a lyric summary 
of the parts of the narrative following them, and are not spoken by the dramatis 
personae. The Cantafable (but not the Sagas) perhaps may be traced back to 
such a work as Boethius's De consolatione, which at least is identical in form, 
or Capella's De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii. The De planctu naturae of Alanus 
de Insulis {post, Chapter XXXIII. 1) plainly shows such antecedents. 


like all national literature, bear a twofold testimony : that 
of their own literary qualities, and that of the characters 
which they portray. In the first place, a Saga is absolute 
narrative : it relates deeds, incidents, and sayings, in the 
manner and order in which they would strike the eye and 
ear of the listener, did the matter pass before him. The 
narrator offers no analysis of motives ; he inserts no reflec- 
tions upon characters and situations. He does not even 
relate the incidents from the vantage-ground of a full 
knowledge of them, but from the point of view of each 
instant's impression upon the participants or onlookers. 
The result is an objective and vivid presentation of the 
story. Next, the Sagas are economical of incident as well 
as language. That incident is told which the story needs 
for the presentation of the hero's career ; those circum- 
stances are given which the incident needs in order that its 
significance may be perceived ; such sayings of the actors 
are related as reveal most in fewest words. There is nothing 
more extraordinary in these stories than the significance of 
the small incident, and the extent of revelation carried by a 
terse remark. . 

For example, in the Gisli Saga, Gisli has gone out in the 
winter night to the house of his brother Thorkel, with whom 
he is on good terms, and there has slain Thorkel's wife's 
brother in his bed. In the darkness and confusion he 
escapes unrecognized, gets back to his own house and into 
bed, where he lies as if asleep. At daybreak the dead man's 
friends come packing to Gisli's farm : 

" Now they come to the farm, Thorkel and Eyjolf, and go up 
to the shut-bed where Gisli and his wife slept ; but Thorkel, Gisli's 
brother, stepped up first on to the floor, and stands at the side of 
the bed, and sees Gisli's shoes lying all frozen and snowy. He 
kicked them under the foot-board, so that no other man should 
see them." 1 

This little incident of the shoes not only shows how near 
was Gisli to detection and death, but also discloses the way 
in which Thorkel meant to act and did act toward his 
brother : to wit, shield him so long as it might be done 
without exposing himself. 

1 Story of Gisli the outlaw, trans, by Dasent, chap. ix. (Edinburgh, 1866). 

chap, viii TEUTON QUALITIES 159 

Another illustration. The Njals Saga opens with a 
sketch of the girl Hallgerda, so drawn that it presages most 
of the trouble in the story. There were two well-to-do 
brothers, Hauskuld and Hrut : 

" It happened once that Hauskuld bade his friends to a feast, 
and his brother Hrut was there, and sat next to him. Hauskuld 
had a daughter named Hallgerda, who was playing on the floor 
with some other girls. She was fair of face and tall of growth, and 
her hair was as soft as silk ; it was so long, too, that it came down 
to her waist. Hauskuld called out to her, ' Come hither to me, 
daughter.' So she went up to him, and he took her by the chin 
and kissed her ; after that she went away. Then Hauskuld said 
to Hrut, ' What dost thou think of this maiden ? Is she not 
fair ? ' Hrut held his peace. Hauskuld said the same thing to 
him a second time, and then Hrut answered, ' Fair enough is this 
maid, and many will smart for it ; but this I know not, whence 
thief's eyes have come into our race.' Then Hauskuld was wroth, 
and for a time the brothers saw little of each other." 1 

The picture of Hallgerda will never leave the reader's 
mind throughout the story, of which she is the evil genius. 
It is after she has caused the death of her first husband and 
is sought by a second, that she is sent for by her father to 
ask what her mind may be : 

" Then they sent for Hallgerda, and she came thither, and two 
women with her. She had on a cloak of rich blue woof, and under 
it a scarlet kirtle, and a silver girdle round her waist ; but her hair 
came down on both sides of her bosom, and she had turned the 
locks up under her girdle. She sat down between Hrut and her 
father, and she greeted them all with kind words, and spoke well 
and boldly, and asked what was the news. After that she ceased 

This is the woman that the girl has grown to be ; and she 
is still at the beginning of her mischief. Such narrative 
art discloses both in the tale-teller and the audience an 
intelligence which sees the essential fact and is impatient 
of encumbrance. It is the same intelligence that made 
these Vikings so efficient in war, and in peace quick to seize 
cogent means. 

Truthfulness is another quality of the Sagas. Indeed 
their respect for historical or biographical fact sometimes 

1 The Story of Burnt Njal, chap, i., trans, by Dasent. 


hindered the evolution of a perfect story. They hesitated 
to omit or alter well-remembered incidents. Nevertheless 
a certain remodelling came, as generation after generation 
of narrators made the incidents more striking and the 
characters more marked, and, under the exigencies of story- 
telling, omitted details which, although actual, were 
irrelevant to the current of the story. The disadvantages 
from truthfulness were slight, compared with the admirable 
artistic qualities preserved by it. It kept the stories true to 
reality, excluding unreality, exaggeration, absurdity. Hence 
these Sagas are convincing : no reader can withhold belief . 
They contain no incredible incidents. On occasions they tell 
of portents, prescience, and second sight, but not so as to 
raise a smile. They relate a very few encounters with trolls 
— the hideous, unlaid, still embodied dead. But those 
accounts conform to the hard-wrung superstitions of a people 
not given to credulity. So they are real. The reality of 
Grettir's night-wrestling with Glam, the troll, is hardly to 
be matched. 1 Truthfulness likewise characterizes their 
heroes : no man lies about his deeds, and no man's word is 

While the Saga-folk include no cowards or men of petty 
manners, there is still great diversity of character among 
them. Some are lazy and some industrious, some quarrel- 
some and some good-natured, some dangerous, some forbear- 
ing, gloomy or cheerful, open-minded or biassed, shrewd or 
stupid, generous or avaricious. Such contrasts of character 
abound both in the Sagas of Icelandic life and those which 
handle the broader matter of history. One may note in the 
Heimskringla 2 of the Kings of Norway the contrasted char- 
acters of the kings Olaf Tryggvason and St. Olaf. The 
latter appears as a hard-working, canny ruler, a lover of 

1 The Story of Grettir the Strong (Grettis Saga), chaps. 32-35, trans, by 
Magnusson and Morris (London, 1869). See also ibid, chaps. 65, 66. These 
accounts are analogous to the story of Beowulf s fights with Grendal and his 
dam ; but are more convincing. 

2 The stories of the Kings of Norway, called the Round World (Heimskringla), 
by Snorri Sturluson, done into English by Magnusson and Morris (London, 
1893). Snorri Sturluson (b. 1178, d. 1241) composed or put together the Heims- 
kringla from earlier writings, chiefly those of Ari the Historian (b. 1067, d. 1148), 
" a man of truthfulness, wisdom, and good memory," who wrote largely from 
oral accounts. 

chap, vm TEUTON QUALITIES 161 

order, a legislator and enforcer of the laws ; in person, short, 
thick-set, carrying his head a little bent. A Viking had he 
been, and was a fighter, till he fell in his last great battle 
undaunted by odds. 

But the other Olaf, Norway's darling hero, is epic : tall, 
golden-haired, peerless from his boyhood, beloved and hated. 
His marvellous physical masteries are told, his cliff-climbing, 
his walking on the sweeping oars keeping three war-axes 
tossing in the air. He smote well with either hand and 
cast two spears at once. He was the gladdest and game- 
somest of men, kind and lowly-hearted, eager in all matters, 
bountiful of gifts, glorious of attire, before all men for high 
heart in battle, and grimmest of all men in his wrath ; 
marvellous great pains he laid upon his foes. " No man 
durst gainsay him, and all the land was christened whereso- 
ever he came." Five short years made up his reign. At 
the end, neither he was broken nor his power. But a plot, 
moved by the hatred of a spurned heathen queen, delivered 
him to unequal combat with his enemies, the Kings of 
Denmark and Sweden, and Eric the great Viking Earl. 

Olaf is sailing home from Wendland. The hostile fleet 
crouches behind an island. Sundry of Olaf's ships pass by. 
Then the kings spy a great ship sailing — that will be Olaf's 
Long Worm they say ; Eric says no. Anon come four 
ships, and a great dragon amid them — the Long Worm ? 
not yet. At last she comes, greatest and bravest of all, and 
Olaf in her, standing on the poop, with gilded shield and 
golden helm and a red kirtle over his mail coat. His men 
bade to sail on, and not fight so great a host ; but Olaf said, 
" Never have I fled from battle." So Olaf's ships are lashed 
in line, at the centre the Long Worm, its prow forward of the 
others because of her greater length. Olaf would have it 
thus in spite of the " windy weather in the bows " predicted 
by her captain. The enemies' ships close around them. 
Olaf's grapplings are too much for the Danes ; they draw 
back. Their places are taken by the ships of Sweden. 
They fare no better. At last Earl Eric lays fast his iron- 
beaks to Olaf's ships ; Danes and Swedes take courage and 
return. It is hand to hand now, the ships laid aboard of 
each other. 

vol. i 14 


At last all of Olaf's ships are cleared of men and cut 
adrift, save the Long Worm. There fight Olaf's chosen, 
mad with battle. Einar, Olaf's strong bowman, from the 
Worm aft in the main hold, shot at Earl Eric ; one arrow 
pierced the tiller by his head, the second flew beneath his 
arm. Says the Earl to Finn, his bowman, " Shoot me 
yonder big man." Finn shot, and the arrow struck full 
upon Einar's bow as he was drawing it the third time, and it 
broke in the middle. 

" What broke there so loud ? " said Olaf. 

" Norway, king, from thine hands," answered Einar. 

" No such crash as that," said the king ; " take my bow 
and shoot." 

But the foeman's strength was overpowering. Olaf's 
men were cut down amidships. They hardly held the poop 
and bow. Earl Eric leads the boarders. The ship is full 
of foes. Olaf will not be taken. He leaps overboard. 
About the ship swarm boats to seize him ; but he threw his 
shield over his head and sank quickly in the sea. 

The private Sagas construct in powerful lines the char- 
acters of the heroes from the stories of their lives. A great 
example is the Saga of Egil, 1 whose father was a Norse 
chief who had sailed to Iceland, where Egil was born. As 
a child he was moody, intractible, and dangerous, and once 
killed an older lad who had got the better of him at ball 
playing. There was no great love between him and his 
father. When he was twelve years old his father used him 
roughly. He entered the great hall and walked up to his 
father's steward and slew him. Then he went to his seat. 
After that, father and son said little to each other. The 
boy was bent on going cruising with his older brother, 
Thorolf. The father yields, and Egil goes a -harrying. 
Fierce is his course in Norway, where they come. On the 
sea his vessel bears him from deed to deed of blood and 
daring. His strength won him booty and reward ; he won 
a friend too, Arinbjorn, and there was always troth between 

Thorolf and Egil took service with King Athelstane, 
who was threatened with attack from the King of the Scots. 

1 The Story of Egil Skallagrimson, trans, by W. C. Green (London, 1893). 

chap, viii TEUTON QUALITIES 163 

The brothers led the Vikings in Athelstane's force. In the 
battle Thorolf loses his life ; but Egil hears the shout when 
Thorolf falls. His furious valour wins the day for Athel- 
stane. After the fight he buries his brother and sings staves 
over his grave. 

" Then went Egil and those about him to seek King Athelstan, 
and at once went before the king, where he sat at the drinking. 
There was much noise of merriment. And when the king saw 
that Egil was come in, he bade the lower bench be cleared for 
them, and that Egil should sit in the high seat facing the king. 
Egil sat down there, and cast his shield before his feet. He had 
his helm on his head, and laid his sword across his knees ; and 
now and again he half drew it, and then clashed it back into the 
sheath. He sat upright, but with head bent forward. Egil was 
large-featured, broad of forehead, with large eye-brows, a nose not 
I long but very thick, lips wide and long, chin exceeding broad, as 
was all about the jaws ; thick-necked was he, and big-shouldered 
beyond other men, hard-featured, and grim when angry. He 
would not drink now, though the horn was borne to him, but 
alternately twitched his brows up and down. King Athelstan 
sat in the upper high-seat. He too laid his sword across his knees. 
When they had sat there for a time, then the king drew his sword 
from the sheath, and took from his arm a gold ring large and good, 
and placing it upon the sword-point he stood up, and went across 
the floor, and reached it over the fire to Egil. Egil stood up and 
drew his sword, and went across the floor. He stuck the sword- 
point within the round of the ring, and drew it to him ; then he 
went back to his place. The king sate him again in his high-seat. 
But when Egil was set down, he drew the ring on his arm, and 
then his brows went back to their place. He now laid down 
sword and helm, took the horn that they bare to him, and drank 
it off. Then sang he : 

' Mailed monarch, god of battle, 
Maketh the tinkling circlet 
Hang, his own arm forsaking, 

On hawk- trod wrist of mine. 
I bear on arm brand-wielding 
Bracelet of red gold gladly. 
War-falcon's feeder meetly 

Findeth such meed of praise.' 

' Thereafter Egil drank his share, and talked with others. 
Presently the king caused to be borne in two chests ; two men 
bare each. Both were full of silver. The king said : ' These 
chests, Egil, thou shalt have, and, if thou comest to Iceland, shalt 
carry this money to thy father ; as payment for a son I send it to 


him : but some of the money thou shalt divide among such kins- 
men of thyself and Thorolf as thou thinkest most honourable. 
But thou shalt take here payment for a brother with me, land or 
chattels, which thou wilt. And if thou wilt abide with me long, 
then will I give thee honour and dignity such as thyself mayst 

" Egil took the money, and thanked the king for his gifts and 
friendly words. Thenceforward Egil began to be cheerful ; and 
then he sang : 

' In sorrow sadly drooping 
Sank my brows close-knitted ; 
Then found I one who furrows 
Of forehead could smooth. 
Fierce-frowning cliffs that shaded 
My face a king hath lifted 
With gleam of golden armlet : 
Gloom leaveth my eyes.' " 

Like many of his kind in Iceland and Norway, this fierce 
man was a poet. Once he saved his life by a poem, and 
he had made poems as gifts. It was when the old Viking's 
life was drawing to its close at his home in Iceland that 
he composed his most moving lay. His beautiful beloved 
son was drowned. After the burial Egil rode home, went 
to his bed-closet, lay down and shut himself in, none daring 
to speak to him. There he lay, silent, for a day and night. 
At last his daughter knocks and speaks ; he opens. She 
enters and beguiles him with her devotion. After a while 
the old man takes food. And at last she prevails on him 
to make a poem on his son's death, and assuage his grief. 
So the song begins, and at length rises clear and strong — 
perhaps the most heart-breaking of all old Norse poems. 1 

In the portrayal of contrasted characters no other Saga 
can equal the great Njala, a Saga large and complex, and 
doubtless composite ; for it seems put together out of three 
stories, in all of which figured the just Njal, although he is 
the chief personage in only one of them. The story, with 
its multitude of personages and threefold subject-matter, 
lacks unity perhaps. Yet the different parts of the Saga 

1 These poems are in the Saga, and will be found translated in Mr. Green's 
edition. They are also edited with prose translations in C.P.B., vol. i. pp. 266- 
280. With Egil one may compare the still more truculent, but very different 
Grettir, hero of the Grettis Saga. The Story of Grettir the Strong, trans, by 
Magnusson and Morris (2nd ed., London, 1869). 

chap. viii TEUTON QUALITIES 165 

successively hold the attention. In the first part, the in- 
comparable Gunnar is the hero ; in the second, Njal and his 
sons engage our interest in their varied characters and 
common fate. These are great narratives. The third part 
is perhaps epigonic, excellent and yet an aftermath. Only 
a reading of this Saga can bring any realization of its power 
of narrative and character delineation. Its chief personages 
are as clear as the day. One can almost see the sunlight of 
Gunnar's open brow, and certainly can feel his manly heart. 
The foil against which he is set off is his friend Njal, equally 
good, utterly different : unwarlike, wise in counsel, a great 
lawyer, truthful, just, shrewd and foreseeing. Hallgerda of 
the long silken hair is Gunnar's wife ; she has caused the 
deaths of two husbands already, and will yet prove Gunnar's 
bane. Little time passes before she is the enemy of Njal's 
high-minded spouse, Bergthora. Then Hallgerda beginning, 
Bergthora following quick, the two push on their quarrel, 
instigating in counter -vengeance alternate manslayings, 
each one a little nearer to the heart and honour of Gunnar 
and Njal. Yet their friendship is unshaken. For every 
killing the one atones with the other ; and the same blood- 
money passes to and fro between them. 

Gunnar's friendship with the pacific Njal and his warlike 
sons endured till Gunnar's death. That came from enmities 
first stirred by the thieving of Hallgerda's thieving thrall. 
She had ordered it, and in shame Gunnar gave her a slap in 
the face, the sole act of irritation recorded of this generous, 
forbearing, peerless Viking, who once remarked : "I would 
like to know whether I am by so much the less brisk and 
bold than other men, because I think more of killing men 
than they ? " At a meeting of the Althing he was badgered 
by his ill-wishers into entering his stallion for a horse-fight, 
a kind of contest usually ending in a man-fight. Skarphe- 
dinn, the most masterful of Njal's sons, offered to handle 
Gunnar's horse for him : 

" Wilt thou that I drive thy horse, kinsman Gunnar ? " 

" I will not have that," says Gunnar. 

" It wouldn't be amiss, though," says Skarphedinn ; "we 
are hot-headed on both sides." 

" Ye would say or do little," says Gunnar, " before a 


quarrel would spring up ; but with me it will take longer, 
though it will be all the same in the end." 

Naturally the contest ends in trouble. Gunnar's beaten 
and enraged opponent seizes his weapons, but is stopped by 
bystanders. " This crowd wearies me," said Skarphedinn ; 
"it is far more manly that men should fight it out with 
weapons." Gunnar remained quiet, the best swordsman 
and bowman of them all. But his enemies fatuously pushed 
on the quarrel ; once they rode over him working in the 
field. So at last he fought, and killed many of them. Then 
came the suits for slaying, at the Althing. Njal is Gunnar's 
counsellor, and atonements are made : Gunnar is to go 
abroad for three winters, and unless he goes, he may be slain 
by the kinsmen of those he has killed. Gunnar said nothing. 
Njal adjured him solemnly to go on that journey : " Thou 
wilt come back with great glory, and live to be an old man, 
and no man here will then tread on thy heel ; but if thou 
dost not fare away, and so breakest thy atonement, then 
thou wilt be slain here in the land, and that is ill knowing 
for those who are thy friends." 

Gunnar said he had no mind to break the atonement, 
and rode home. A ship is made ready, and Gunnar's gear 
is brought down. He rides around and bids farewell to 
his friends, thanking them for the help they had given him, 
and returns to his house. The next day he embraces the 
members of his household, leaps into the saddle, and rides 
away. But as he is riding down to the sea, his horse trips 
and throws him. He springs from the ground, and says 
with his face to the Lithe, his home : " Fair is the Lithe ; so 
fair that it has never seemed to me so fair ; the cornfields 
are white to harvest, and the home mead is mown ; and- now 
I will ride back home, and not fare abroad at all." 

So he turns back — to his fate. The following summer 
at the Althing, his enemies give notice of his outlawry. Njal 
rides to Gunnar's home, tells him of it, and offers his sons' 
aid, to come and dwell with him : " they will lay down their 
lives for thy life." 

" I will not," says Gunnar, " that thy sons should be 
slain for my sake, and thou hast a right to look for other 
things from me." 

chap, viii TEUTON QUALITIES 167 

Njal rode to his home, while Gunnar's enemies gathered 
and moved secretly to his house. His hound, struck down 
with an axe, gives a great howl and expires. Gunnar awoke 
in his hall, and said : " Thou hast been sorely treated, Sam, 
my fosterling, and this warning is so meant that our two 
deaths will not be far apart." Single-handed, the beset 
chieftain maintains himself within, killing two of his enemies 
and wounding eight. At last, wounded, and with his bow- 
string cut, he turns to his wife Hallgerda : " Give me two 
locks of thy hair, and do thou and my mother twist them 
into a bowstring for me." 

" Does aught lie on it ? " she says. 

" My life lies on it," he said ; " for they will never come 
to close quarters with me if I can keep them off with my 

" Well," she says, " now I will call to thy mind that slap 
on the face which thou gavest me ; and I care never a whit 
whether thou holdest out a long while or a short." 

Then Gunnar sang a stave, and said, " Every one has 
something to boast of, and I will ask thee no more for this." 
He fought on till spent with wounds, and at last they killed 

Here the Njala may be left with its good men and true 
and its evil plotters, all so differently shown. It has still 
to tell the story and fate of Njal's unbending sons, of Njal 
himself and his high-tempered dame, who will abide with 
her spouse in their burning house, which enemies have 
surrounded and set on fire to destroy those sons. Njal 
himself was offered safety if he would come out, but he 
would not. 

Perhaps we have been beguiled by their unique literary 
qualities into dwelling overlong upon the Sagas. These 
Norse compositions belong to the Middle Ages only in 
time ; for they were uninfluenced either by Christianity or 
the antique culture, the formative elements of mediaeval 
development. They are interesting in their aloofness, and 
also important for our mediaeval theme, because they were 
the ultimate as well as the most admirable expression of the 
native Teutonic genius as yet integral, but destined to have 
mighty part in the composite course of mediaeval 'growth. 


More specifically they are the voice of that falcon race which 
came from the Norseland to stock England with fresh strains 
of Danish blood, to conquer Normandy, and give new 
courage to the Celtic-German-Frenchmen, and thence went 
on to bring its hardihood, war cunning, and keen statecraft 
to southern Italy and Sicily. In all these countries the 
Norse nature, supple and pliant, accepted the gifts of new 
experience, and in return imparted strength of purpose to 
peoples with whom the Norsemen mingled in marriage as 
well as war. 

This chapter has shown Teutonic faculties still integral 
and unmodified by Latin Christian influence. Their partici- 
pation in the processes of mediaeval development will be 
seen as Anglo-Saxons and Germans become converted to 
Latin Christianity, and apply themselves to the study of 
the profane Latinity, to which it opened the way. 



I. Irish Activities ; Columbanus of Luxeuil. 
II. Conversion of the English ; the learning of Bede 

and Alfred. 
III. Gaul and Germany ; from Clovis to St. Winifried- 

The northern peoples, Celts and Teutons for the most part 
as they are called, came into contact with Roman civiliza- 
tion as the great Republic brought Gaul and Britain under 
its rule. Since Rome was still pagan when these lands were 
made provinces, an unchristianized Latinity was grafted upon 
their predominantly Celtic populations. The second stage, 
as it were, of this contact between Rome and the north, is 
represented by that influx of barbarians, mostly Teutonic, 
which, in both senses of the word, quickened the disruption 
of the Empire in the fourth and following centuries. The 
religion called after the name of Christ had then been 
accepted ; and invading Goths, Franks, Burgundians, 
Lombards, and the rest, were introduced to a somewhat 
Christianized Latindom. Indeed, in the Latin-Christian com- 
bination, the Christian element was becoming dominant, and 
was soon to be the chief means of extending the antique 
culture. For Christianity, with Latinity in its train, was 
to project itself outward to subjugate heathen Anglo-Saxons 
in England, Frisians in the Low Countries, and the unkempt 
Teutondom which roved east of the Rhine, and was ever 
pressing southward over the boundaries of former provinces, 
now reverting to unrest. In past times the assimilating 
energy of Roman civilization had united western Europe in 
a common social order. Henceforth Christianity was to be 



the prime amalgamator, while the survivals of Roman 
institutions and the remnants of antique culture were to 
assist in secondary roles. With Charles Martel, with Pippin, 
and with Charlemagne, Latin Christianity is the symbol of 
civilized order, while heathendom and savagery are identical. 

The conversion of the northern peoples, and their 
incidental introduction to profane knowledge, wrought upon 
them deeply ; while their own qualities and the conditions 
of their lives affected their understanding of what they 
received and their attitude toward the new religion. Obvi- 
ously the dissemination of Christianity among rude peoples 
would be unlike that first spreading of the Gospel through 
the Empire, in the course of which it had been transformed 
to Greek and Latin Christianity. Italy, Spain, and Gaul 
made the western region of this primary diffusion of the 
Faith. Of a distinctly missionary character were the further 
labours which resulted in the conversion of the fresh masses 
of Teutons who were breaking into the Roman pale, or were 
still moving restlessly beyond it. Moreover, between the 
time of the first diffusion of Christianity within the Empire 
and that of its missionary extension beyond those now 
decayed and fallen boundaries, it had been formulated 
dogmatically, and given ecclesiastical embodiment in a 
Catholic church into which had passed the conquering and 
organizing genius of Rome. This finished system was pre- 
sented to simple peoples, sanctioned by the authority and 
dowered with the surviving culture of the civilized world. 
It offered them mightier supernatural aid, nobler knowledge, 
and a better ordering of life than they had known. The 
manner and authority of its presentation hastened its accept- 
ance, and also determined the attitude toward it of the new 
converts and their children for generations. Theirs was to 
be the attitude of ignorance before recognized wisdom, and 
that of a docility which revered the manner and form as 
well as the substance of its lesson. The development of 
mediaeval Europe was affected by the mode and circum- 
stances of this secondary propagation of Christianity. For 


centuries the northern peoples were to be held in tutelage 
to the form and constitution of that which they had received : 
they continued to revere the patristic sources of Christian 
doctrines, and to look with awe upon the profane culture 
accompanying them. 

Thus, as under authority, Christianity came to the 
Teutonic peoples, even to those who, like the Goths, were 
converted to the Arian creed. Likewise the orthodox belief 
was brought to the Celtic Britons and Irish as a superior 
religion associated with superior culture. But the qualities 
or circumstances of these western Celts reacted more freely 
upon their form of faith, because Ireland and Britain were 
the fringe of the world, and Christianity was hardly fixed in 
dogma and ritual when the conversion at least of Britain 

Certain phrases of Tertullian indicate that Christianity 
had made some progress among the Britons by the beginning 
of the third century. For the next hundred years nothing 
is known of the British Church, save that it did not surfer 
from the persecution under Diocletian in 304, and ten years 
afterwards was represented by three bishops at the Council 
of Aries. It was orthodox, accepting the creed of Nicaea 
(a.d. 325) and the date of Easter there fixed. The fourth 
century seems to have been the period of its prosperity. 
It was affiliated with the Church of Gaul ; nor did these 
relations cease at once when the Roman legions were with- 
drawn from Britain in 410. But not many decades later 
the Saxon invasion began to cut off Britain from the Christian 
world. After a while certain divergences appear in rite and 
custom, though not in doctrine. They seem not to have been 
serious when Gildas wrote in 550. Yet when Augustine 
came, fifty years later, the Britons celebrated Easter at a 
different date from that observed by the Roman Catholic 
Church ; for they followed the old computation which 
Rome had used before adopting the better method of 
Alexandria. Also the mode of baptism and the tonsure 
differed from the Roman. 

At the close of the sixth century the British Church 
existed chiefly in Wales, whither the Britons had retreated 
before the Saxons. Formerly there had been no unwilling- 


ness to follow the Church of Rome. But now a long period 
had elapsed, during which Britain had been left to its mis- 
fortunes. The Britons had been raided and harassed ; their 
country invaded ; and at last they had been driven from 
the greater portion of their land. How they hated those 
Saxon conquerors ! And forsooth a Roman mission appears 
to convert those damned and hateful heathen, and a some- 
what haughty summons issues to the expelled or down- 
trodden people to abandon their own Christian usages for 
those of the Roman communion, and then join this Roman 
mission in its saving work among those Saxons whom the 
Britons had met only at the spear's point. Love of ancient 
and familiar customs soured to obstinacy in the face of such 
demands ; a sweeping rejection was returned. Yet to 
conform to Roman usages and join with Augustine in his 
mission to the Saxons, was the only way in which the 
dwindling British Church could link itself to the Christian 
world, and save its people from exterminating wars. By 
refusing, it committed suicide. 

A refusal to conform, although no refusal to undertake 
missions to the Saxons, came from the Irish-Scottish Church. 
As Ireland had never been drawn within the Roman world, 
its conversion was later than that of Britain. Yet there 
would seem to have been Christians in Ireland before 431 ; 
for in that year, according to an older record quoted by 
Bede, Palladius, the first bishop {firimus episcopus) , was sent 
by Celestine the Roman pontiff " ad Scottos in Christum 
credentes." 1 The mission of Palladius does not appear to 
have been acceptable to the Irish. Some accounts have 
confused his story with that of Patrick, the " Apostle of 
Ireland," whose apostolic glory has not been overthrown by 
criticism. The more authentic accounts, and above all his 
own Confession, go far to explain Patrick's success. His 
early manhood, passed as a slave in Antrim, gave him 
understanding of the Irish ; and doubtless his was a great 
missionary capacity and zeal. The natural approach to 
such a people was through their tribal kings, and Patrick 

1 Bede, Hist. Ecc. i. 13. Moreover, the chief partisan of Pelagius (a Briton) 
was Coelestinus, an Irishman whose restless activity falls in the thirty years 
preceding the mission of Palladius. 


appears to have made his prime onslaught upon Druidical 
heathendom at Tara, the abode of the high king of Ireland. 
The earliest accounts do not refer to any authority from 
Rome. Patrick seems to have acted from spontaneous 
inspiration ; and a like independence characterizes the 
monastic Christianity which sprang up in Ireland and over- 
leapt the water to Iona, to Christianize Scotland as well as 
northern Anglo-Saxon heathendom. 1 

Irish monasticism was an ascetically ordered continuance 
of Irish society. If, like other early western monasticism, 
it derived suggestions from Syria or Egypt, it was far more 
the product of Irish temperament, customs, and conditions. 
One may also find a potent source in the monastic com- 
munities alleged to have existed in Ireland in the days of 
the Druids. Doubtless many members of that caste became 
Christian monks. 

The noblest passion of Irish monastic Christianity was 
to peregrinare for the sake of Christ, and spread the Faith 
among the heathen ; the most interesting episodes of its 
history are the wanderings and missionary labours and 
foundations of its leaders. The careers of Columba and 
Columbanus afford grandiose examples. Something has 
been said of the former. The monastery which he founded 
on the Island of Iona was the Faith's fountainhead for 
Scotland and the Saxon north of England in the sixth and 
seventh centuries. About the time of Columba's birth, men 
from Dalriada on the north coast of Ireland crossed the 
water to found another Dalriada in the present Argyleshire, 
and transfer the name of Scotia (Ireland) to Scotland. 
When Columba landed at Iona, these settlers were hard 
pressed by the heathen Picts under King Brude or Bridius. 
Accompanied by two Pictish Christians, he penetrated to 
Brude's dwelling, near the modern Inverness, converted that 
monarch in 565, and averted the overthrow of Dalriada. 
For the next thirty years Columba and his monks did not 
cease from their labours ; numbers of monasteries were 
founded, daughters of Iona ; and great parts of Scotland 
became Christian at least in name. The supreme authority 

1 On Patrick, see Bury, The Life of St. Patrick and his Place in History (London, 


was the Abbot of Iona with his council of monks ; " bishops ,: 
performed their functions under him. Early in the seventh 
century, St. Aidan was ordained bishop in Iona and sent to 
convert the Anglo-Saxons of Northumberland. The story 
of the Irish Church in the north is one of effective mission 
work, but unsuccessful organization, wherein it was inferior 
to the Roman Church. Its representatives suffered defeat at 
the Synod of Whitby in 664. Fifty years afterward Iona 
gave up its separate usages and accepted the Roman Easter. 1 
The missionary labours of the Irish were not confined 
to Great Britain, but extended far and wide through the 
west of Europe. In the sixth and seventh centuries, Irish 
monasteries were founded in Austrasia and Burgundy, Italy, 
Switzerland, Bavaria ; they were established among Frisians, 
Saxons, Alemanni. And as centres of Latin education as 
well as Christianity, the names of Bobbio and St. Gall will 
occur to every one. Of these, the first directly and the 
second through a disciple were due to Columbanus. With 
him we enter the larger avenues of Irish missions to the 
heathen, the semi-heathen, and the lax, and upon the 
question of their efficacy in the preservation of Latin educa- 
tion throughout the rent and driven fragments of the western 
Roman Empire. The story of Columban's life is illuminat- 
ing and amusing. 2 

1 As for the Irish Church in Ireland, there were many differences in usage 
between it and the Church of Rome. In the matters of Easter and the tonsure 
the southern Irish were won over to the Roman customs before the middle of the 
seventh century, and after that the Roman Easter made its way to acceptance 
through the island. Yet still the Irish appear to have used their own Liturgy, 
and to have shown little repugnance to the marriage of priests. The organiza- 
tion of the churches remained monastic rather than diocesan or episcopal, in 
spite of the fact that " bishops," apparently with parochial functions, existed in 
great numbers. Hereditary customs governed the succession of the great abbots, 
as at Armagh, until the time of St. Malachy, a contemporary of St. Bernard. 
See St. Bernard's Life of Malachy, chap, x., Migne 182, col. 1086, cited by Killen, 
o.c. vol. i. p. 173. The exertions of Gregory VII. and Lanfranc, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, did much to bring the Irish Church into obedience to Rome. Various 
Irish synods in the twelfth century completed a proper diocesan system. Cf. 
Killen, Eccl. Hist, of Ireland, vol. i. pp. 162-222 ; also the article in the Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica on the history of Ireland by Quiggin and Bagwell. 

2 The works of St. Columbanus or Columban, usually called of Luxeuil, are 
printed in Migne's Patrologia Latina, 80, col. 209-296. The chief source of know- 
ledge of his life is the Vita by Jonas his disciple : Migne, Pat. Lat. 87, col. 1009^046. 
It has been translated by D. C. Munro, in vol. ii. No. 7 (series of 1895) of Trans- 
lations, etc., published by University of Pennsylvania (Phila. 1897). See also 
Montalembert, Monks of the West, book vii. (vol. ii. of English translation). 


He was born in Leinster. While yet a boy he felt the 
conflict between fleshly lusts and that counter-ascetic passion 
which throughout the Christian world was drawing thousands 
into monasteries. Asceticism, with desire for knowledge, 
won the victory, and the youth entered the monastery of 
Bangor, in the extreme north-east of Ireland. There he 
passed years of labour, study, and self -mortification. At 
length the pilgrim mission-passion came upon him (coepit 
peregrinationem desiderare) and his importunity overcame 
the abbot's reluctance to let him depart. Twelve disciples 
are said to have followed him across the water to the shores 
of Britain. There they hesitated in anxious doubt, till it 
was decided to cross to Gaul. 

This was about the year 590. Columban's austere and 
commanding form, his fearlessness, his quick and fiery 
tongue, impressed the people among whom he came. 
Reports of his holiness spread ; multitudes sought his 
blessing. He traversed the country, preaching and setting 
his own stern example, until he reached the land of the 
Burgundians, where Gontran, a grandson of Clovis, reigned. 
Well received by this ruler, Columban established himself in 
an old castle. His disciples grew in numbers, and after a 
while Gontran granted him an extensive Roman structure 
called Luxovium (Luxeuil) situated at the confines of the 
Burgundian and Austrasian kingdoms. Columban con- 
verted this into a monastery, and it soon included many 
noble Franks and Burgundians among its monks. For them 
he composed a monastic regula, stern and cruel in its penalties 
of many stripes imposed for trivial faults. " Whoever may 
wish to know his strenuousness (strenuitatem) will find it in 
his precepts," writes the monk Jonas, who had lived under 

The strenuousness of this masterful and overbearing 
man was displayed in his controversy with the Gallican 
clergy, upon whom he tried to impose the Easter day 
observed by the Celtic Church in the British Isles. In his 
letter to the Gallican synod, he points out their errors, and 
lectures them on their Christian duties, asking pardon at the 
end for his loquacity and presumption. Years afterwards, 
entering upon another controversy, he wrote an extra- 


ordinary letter to Pope Boniface IV. The superscription is 
Hibernian : "To the most beautiful head of all the churches 
of entire Europe, the most sweet pope, the most high 
president, the most reverent investigator : O marvellous ! 
mirum dictu ! nova res ! rara avis ! — that the lowest to the 
loftiest, the clown to the polite, the stammerer to the prince 
of eloquence, the stranger to the son of the house, the last 
to the first, that the Wood-pigeon (Palumbus) should dare 
to write to Father Boniface ! " Whereupon this Wood- 
pigeon writes a long letter in which belligerent expostulation 
alternates with self -debasement. He dubs himself " garrulus, 
presumptuosus, homunculus vilissimae qualitatis," who caps 
his impudence by writing unrequested. He implores pardon 
for his harsh and too biting speech, while he deplores — to 
him who sat thereon — the infamia of Peter's Seat, and shrills 
to the Pope to watch : " Vigila itaque, quaeso, papa, vigila ; 
et iterum dico : vigila " ; and he marvels at the Pope's 
lethal sleep. 

One who thus berated pope and clergy might be cen- 
sorious of princes. Gontran died. After various dynastic 
troubles, the Burgundian land came under the rule nominally 
of young Theuderic, but actually of his imperious grand- 
mother, the famous Brunhilde. In order that no queen- 
wife's power should supplant her own, she encouraged her 
grandson to content himself with mistresses. The youth 
stood in awe of the stern old figure ruling at Luxeuil, who 
more than once reproved him for not wedding a lawful 
queen. It happened one day when Columban was at 
Brunhilde's residence that she brought out Theuderic's 
various sons for him to bless. " Never shall sceptre be held 
by this brothel-brood," said he. 

Henceforth it was war between these two : Theuderic 
was the pivot of the storm ; the one worked upon his fears, 
the other played upon his lusts. Brunhilde prevailed. She 
incited the king to insist that Luxeuil be made open to all, 
and with his retinue to push his way into the monastery. 
The saint withstood him fiercely, and prophesied his ruin. 
The king drew back ; the saint followed, heaping reproaches 
on him, till the young king said with some self-restraint : 
" You hope to win the crown of martyrdom through me. 


But I am not a lunatic, to commit such a crime. I 
have a better plan : since you won't fall in with the ways 
of men of the world, you shall go back by the road you 

So the king sent his retainers to seize the stubborn saint. 
They took him as a prisoner to Besancon. He escaped, 
and hurried back to Luxeuil. Again the king sent, this 
time a count with soldiers, to drive him from the land. 
They feared the sacrilege of laying hands on the old man. 
In the church, surrounded by his monks praying and singing 
psalms, he awaited them. " O man of God," cried the 
count, " we beseech thee to obey the royal command, and 
take thy way to the place from which thou earnest." " Nay, 
I will rather please my Creator, by abiding here," returned 
the saint. The count retired, leaving a few rough soldiers 
to carry out the king's will. These, still fearing to use 
violence, begged the saint to take pity on them, unjustly 
burdened with this evil task — to disobey their orders meant 
their death. The saint reiterates his determination to 
abide, till they fall on their knees, cling to his robe, and 
with groans implore his pardon for the crime they must 

From pity the saint yields at last, and a company of the 
king's men make ready and escort him from the kingdom 
westward toward Brittany. Many miracles mark the 
journey. They reach the Loire, and embark on it. Pro- 
ceeding down the river they come to Tours, where the saint 
asks to be allowed to land and worship at St. Martin's 
shrine. The leader bids the rowers keep the middle of the 
stream and row on. But the boat resistlessly made its way 
to the landing-place. Columban passed the night at the 
shrine, and the next day was hospitably entertained by the 
bishop, who inquired why he was returning to his native 
land. " The dog Theuderic has driven me from my 
brethren," answered the saint. At last Nantes was reached 
near the mouth of the Loire, where the vessel was waiting 
to carry the exile back to Ireland. Columban wrote a 
letter to his monks, in which he poured forth his love to 
them with much advice as to their future conduct. The 
letter is filled with grief — suppressed lest it unman his 
vol. 1 N 


beloved children. " While I write, the messenger comes to 
say that the ship is ready to bear me, unwilling, to my 
country. But there is no guard to prevent my escape, and 
these people even seem to wish it." 

The letter ends, but not the story. Columban did not 
sail for Ireland. Jonas says that the vessel was miraculously 
impeded, and that then Columban was permitted to go 
whither he would. So the dauntless old man travelled 
back from the sea, and went to the Neustrian Court, the 
people along the way bringing him their children to bless. 
He did not rest in Neustria, for the desire was upon him to 
preach to the heathen. Making his way to the Rhine, he 
embarked near Mainz, ascended the river, and at last 
established himself, with his disciples, upon the lake of 
Constance. There they preached to the heathen, and 
threw their idols into the lake. He had the thought to 
preach to the Wends, but this was not to be. 

The time soon came when all Austrasia fell into the hands 
of Brunhilde and Theuderic, and Columbanus decided to 
cross over into northern Italy, breaking out in anger at his 
disciple Gall, who was too sick to go with him. With other 
disciples he made the arduous journey, and reached the 
land of the Lombards. King Agilulf made him a gift of 
Bobbio, lying in a gorge of the Apennines near Genoa, and 
there he founded the monastery which long was to be a 
stronghold of letters. For himself, his career was well-nigh 
run ; he retired to a solitary spot on the banks of the river 
Trebbia, where he passed away, being, apparently, some 
seventy years of age. 

It may seem surprising that this strenuous ascetic should 
occasionally have occupied a leisure hour writing Latin 
poems in imitation of the antique. There still exists such 
an effusion to a friend : 

" Accipe, quaeso, 
Nunc bipedali 
Condita versu 
Munera parva." 

The verses consist mainly of classic allusions and advice 
of an antique rather than a Christian flavour : the wise will 


cease to add coin to coin, and will despise wealth, but not 
the pastime of such verse as the 

" Inclyta Vates 
Nomine Sappho " 

was wont to make. " Now, dear Fedolius, quit learned 
numbers and accept our squibs — frivola nostra. I have 
dictated them oppressed with pain and old age : Vive, vale, 
laetus, tristisque memento senectae." The last is a pagan 
reminiscence, which the saint's Christian soul may not have 
deeply felt. But the poem shows the saint's classic training, 
which probably was exceptional. For there is no evidence 
of like knowledge in any Irishman before him ; and after 
his time, in the seventh century, or the eighth, Latin educa- 
tion in Ireland was confined to a few monastic centres. A 
small minority studied the profanities, sometimes because 
they liked them, but oftener as the means of proficiency in 
sacred learning. 

The Irish had cleverness, facility, ardour, and energy. 
They did much for the dissemination of Christianity and 
letters. Their deficiency was lack of organization ; and 
they had but little capacity for ordered discipline humbly 
and obediently accepted from others. Consequently, when 
the period of evangelization was past in western Europe, 
and organization was needed, with united and persistent 
effort for order, the Irish ceased to lead or even to keep pace 
with those to whom once they had brought the Gospel. In 
Anglo-Saxon England and on the Carolingian continent 
they became strains of influence handed on. This was the 
fortune which overtook them as illuminators of manuscripts 
and preservers of knowledge. Their emotional traits, more- 
over, entered the larger currents of mediaeval feeling and 
imagination. Strains of the Irish, or of a kindred Celtic 
temperament passed on into such " Breton " matters as the 
Tristan story, wherein love is passion unrestrained, and is 
more distinctly out of relationship with ethical considera- 
tions than, for example, the equally adulterous tale of 
Lancelot and Guinevere. 1 

1 The article of H. Zimmer, " Uber die Bedeutung des irischen Elements fur 
die mittelalterliche Cultur," Preussische Jahrbucher, Bd. 59, 1887, presents an 
interesting summary of the Irish influence. His views, and still more those of 



The Saxon invasions of the fifth and sixth centuries 
drove Christianity and letters from the land where the 
semi-Romanized Britons and their church had flourished. 
To reconvert and instruct anew a relapsed heathen country 
was the task which Gregory the Great laid on the willing 
Augustine. The story of that famous mission (a.d. 597) 
need not be told ; l but we may note the manner of the 
presentation of Christianity to the heathen Saxons, and the 
temper of its reception. Most impressive was this bringing 
of the Faith. Augustine and his band of monks came as 
a stately embassy from Rome, the traditionary centre of 
imperial and spiritual power. Their coming was a solemn 
call to the English to associate themselves with all that was 
most august and authoritative in heaven and earth. Accord- 
ing to Bede, Augustine sent a messenger to Ethelbert, the 
Kentish king, to announce that he had come from Rome 
bearing the best of messages, and would assure to such as 
hearkened, eternal joys in heaven and dominion without 
end with the living and true God. To Ethelbert, whose 
kingdom lay at the edge of the great world, the message 
came from this world's sovereign pontiff, who in some awful 
way represented its almighty God, and had authority to 
admit to His kingdom. He was not ignorant of what lay 
within the hand of Rome to give. His wife was a Catholic 
Christian, daughter of a Frankish king, and had her own 
ministering bishop. Doubtless the queen had spoken with 
her lord. Still Ethelbert feared the spell-craft of this awe- 
inspiring embassy, and would meet Augustine only under 

Ozanam in Civilisation chretienne chez les Francs, chap, v., should be controlled 
by the detailed discussion in Roger's L'Enseignement des lettres classiques d'Ausone 
a Alcuin (Paris, 1905), chaps, vi. vii. and viii. See also G. T. Stokes, Ireland and 
the Celtic Church, Lect. XI. (London, 1892, 3rd ed.) ; D'Arbois de Jubainville, 
Introduction a Vttude de la UtUrature celtique, livre ii. chap. ix. ; F. J. H. Jenkinson, 
The Hisperica Famina (Cambridge and New York, 1909). Obviously it is un- 
justifiable (though it has been done) to regard the scholarship of gifted Irishmen 
who lived on the Continent in the ninth century (Sedulius Scotus, Eriugena, etc.) 
as evidence of scholarship in Ireland in the sixth, seventh, or eighth century. 
We do not know where these later men obtained their knowledge ; there is little 
reason to suppose that they got it in Ireland. 

1 See the narrative in Green's History of the English People. 


the open sky. Augustine came to the meeting, a silver 
cross borne before him as a banner, and the pictured image 
of Christ, his monks singing litanies and loudly supplicating 
their Lord for the king's and their own salvation. Know- 
ledge, authority, supernatural power, were represented here. 
And how could the king fail to be struck by the nobility 
of Augustine's Gospel message, by its clear assurance, its 
love and terror, 1 so overwhelming and convincing, so far out- 
soaring Ethelbert's heathen religion ? To be sure, in 
Christian love and forgiveness lay some reversal of Saxon 
morality, for instance of the duty of revenge. But this was 
not prominent in the Christianity of the day ; and experience 
was to show that only in isolated instances did this teaching 
impede the acceptance of the Gospel. 2 

Ethelbert spoke these missionaries fair ; accorded them 
a habitation in Canterbury with the privilege of celebrating 
their Christian rites and preaching to his people. There 
they abode, zealous in vigils and fastings, and preaching 
the word of life. Certain heathen men were converted, 
then the king, and then his folk in multitudes— the usual 
way. Under the direction of Gregory, Augustine proceeded 
with that combination of insistence, dignity, and tolerance, 
so well understood in the Roman Church. There was in- 
sistence upon the main doctrines and requirements of the 
Faith — upon the Roman Easter day and baptism, as against 
the practices of the British Church. Tolerance was shown 
respecting heathen fanes and sacrificial feastings ; the fanes 
should be reconsecrated as Christian churches ; the feasts 
should be continued in honour of the true God. 3 

Besides zeal and knowledge and authority, miracles 
advanced Augustine's enterprise. To eliminate by any 
sweeping negation the miraculous element from the causes 

1 There is no positive evidence that Augustine painted the terrors of the Day 
of Judgment in his first preaching. But it was a chief part of the mediaeval 
Gospel, and never absent from the soul of Augustine's master, Gregory. The 
latter set it forth vividly in his letter to Ethelbert after his baptism (Bede, Hist. 
Ecc. i. 32). 

2 Bede, Hist. Ecc. iii. 22, tells how a certain noble gesith slew his king from 
exasperation with the latter's practice of forgiving his enemies, instead of requiting 
them, according to the principles of heathen morality. 

3 Bede, Hist. Ecc. i. 30. Well known are the picturesque scenes surrounding 
the long controversy as to Easter between the Roman clergy and the British and 
Irish. The matter bulks hugely in Bede's book, as it did in his mind. 


of success of such a mission is to close our eyes to the 
situation. All men expected miracles ; Gregory who sent 
Augustine was infatuated with them. Augustine performed 
them, or believed he did, and others believed it too. 
Throughout these centuries, and indeed late into the 
mediaeval period, the power and habit of working miracles 
constituted sainthood in the hermit or the monk, thereby 
singled out as the special instrument of God's will or the 
Virgin's kindness. Of course miracles were ascribed to the 
great missionary apostles like Augustine or Boniface ; and 
this conviction brought many conversions. 

Among the heathen English about to be converted, there 
was diversity of view and mood as to the Faith. They 
stood in awe of these newcomers from Rome, fearing their 
spell-craft. From their old religion they had sought earthly 
victory and prosperity ; and some had found it of uncertain 
aid. " See, king, how this matter stands," says Coin, at 
the Northumbrian Witenagemot held by Edwin to decide 
as to the new religion : "I have learned of a certainty 
that there is no virtue or utility whatever in that religion 
which we have been following. None of your thanes has 
slaved in the worship of our gods more zealously than I. 
Yet many have had greater rewards and dignities from you, 
and in every way have prospered more. Were the gods 
worth anything, they would wish rather to aid me, who 
have been so zealous in serving them. So if these new 
teachings are better and stronger, let us accept them at 
once." 1 Coin expressed the common motives of converts 
of all nations from the time of Constantine. No better 
thought of Christian expediency had inspired Gregory of 
Tours's story of Clovis's career ; and Bede in no way con- 
demns Coin's verba prudentiae, as he terms them. Naturally 
in times of adversity such converts were quick to abandon 
their new religion, proved ineffectual. 2 
* Among these Angles of Northumberland, however, finer 
souls were looking for light and certitude. Such a one was 
that thane who followed Coin with the wonderful illustration 
of man's mortal need of enlightenment, the thane for whom 
life was as the swallow flying through the warmed and 

1 Bede ii. 13. 2 E.g. as in Bede iii. 1. 


lighted hall, from the dark cold into the dark cold : " So 
this life of men comes into sight for a little ; we are ignorant 
of what shall follow or what may have preceded. If this 
new doctrine offers anything more certain, I think we should 
follow it." The heathen poetry had given varied voice 
to this contemplative melancholy so wont to dwell on life's 
untoward changes ; and there was ghostly evidence of the 
other world before the coming of the Roman monks. Now, 
as those monks came with authority from the traditionary 
home of ghostly lore, why question their knowledge of the 
life beyond the grave ? Many Anglo-Saxons were prepared 
to fix their gaze upon a life to come and to let their fancies 
fill with visions of the great last severance unto heaven and 
hell. When once impressed by the monastic Christianity x 
of the Roman, or the Irish, mission, they were quick 
to throw themselves into the ascetic life which most 
surely opened heaven's doors. So many a noble 
thane became an anchorite or a monk, many a noble 
dame became a nun; and Saxon kings forsook their 
kingdoms for the cloister : " Cenred, who for some time 
had reigned most nobly in Mercia, still more nobly aban- 
doned his sceptre. For he came to Rome, and there was 
tonsured and made a monk at the church of the Apostles, 
and continued in prayers and fastings and almsgiving until 
his last day." 2 

As might be expected, the re-expression of Christianity 
in Anglo-Saxon writings was martial and emotional. A 
martial tone pervades the epic paraphrases of Scripture, the 
Anglo-Saxon Genesis for example. On the other hand, 
adaptations of devotional Latin compositions 3 evince a 
realization of Christian feeling and prevalent ascetic senti- 
ments. The " elegiac " Anglo-Saxon feeling seems to reach 
its height in a more original composition, the Christ of 
Cynewulf, while the emotional fervour coming with Christi- 
anity is disclosed in Bede's account of the inspiration which 
fell upon the cowherd Csedmon, in St. Hilda's monastery 

1 One may bear in mind that practically all active proselytizing Christianity 
of the period was of a monastic type. 

2 a d. 709. Hist. Ecc. v. 19, where another instance is also given ; and see 
ibid. v. 7. 

3 See the pieces in Thorpe's Codex Exoniensis, e.g. the " Supplication," p. 452. 


of Whitby, to sing the story of creation. 1 A pervasive 
monastic atmosphere also surrounds the visions of hell and 
purgatory, which were to continue so typically characteristic 
of monastic Christianity. 2 

What knowledge, sacred and profane, came to the Anglo- 
Saxons with Christianity ? Quite properly learned were 
Augustine and the other organizers of the English Church. 
Two generations after him, the Greek monk Theodore was 
sent by the Pope to become Archbishop of Canterbury, 
complete Augustine's work, and instruct the English monks 
and clergy. Theodore was accompanied by his friend 
Hadrian, as learned as himself. Their labours finally estab- 
lished Roman Christianity in England. The two drew 
about them a band of students, and formed at Canterbury 
a school of sacred learning, where liberal studies were con- 
ducted by these foreigners with a knowledge and intelligence 
novel in Great Britain. In the north, Benedict Biscop, a 
Northumbrian, promoted the ends of Roman Catholicism 
and learning by establishing the monasteries of Wearmouth 
and Jarrow under the monastic regula of St. Benedict of 
Nursia, as modified by the practices of continental monas- 
teries in the seventh century. He had been in Italy, and 
brought thence many books. It was among these books 
that Bede grew up at Jarrow. 

Thus strong currents of Roman ecclesiasticism and 
liberal knowledge reached England. On the other hand, 
Irish monastic Christianity had already made its entry in 
the south-western part of Great Britain, and with greater 
strength established itself in the north, converting multi- 
tudes to the Faith and instructing such as would learn. The 
Irish teaching had been eagerly received by those groups 
of Anglo-Saxons who henceforth were to prosecute their 
studies with the aid of the further knowledge and discipline 
brought from the Continent by Theodore. Some of them 
had even journeyed to Ireland to study. 

From this dual source was drawn the education of 

1 Ecc. Hist. iv. 22. 

2 Bede, Hist. Ecc. iii. 19 ; v. 12, 13, 14. Of these the most famous is the 
vision of Fursa, an Irishman ; but others were had by Northumbrians. Plummer, 
in his edition of Bede, vol. ii. p. 294, gives a list of such visions in the Middle 


Aldhelm. He was born in Wessex about the year 650, and 
was nephew of the powerful King Ini. He became abbot 
of Malmesbury in 675. An Irish monk was his first teacher ; 
his second, the learned Hadrian. From the two he received 
a broader education than any Anglo-Saxon had possessed 
before him. Always holding in view the perfecting of his 
sacred knowledge, he studied grammar and kindred topics, 
produced treatises himself, and as a Catholic student and 
teacher was a true forerunner of the greatest scholar among 
his younger contemporaries, Bede. 1 

Bede the Venerable, and we may add the still beloved, 
was Aldhelm's junior by some twenty-five years. He was 
born in 673 and died in 735. He passed his whole life 
reading, teaching, and writing in the Cloister of Jarrow near 
where he was born, and not far from where, beneath the 
" Galilee " of Durham Cathedral, his bones have long re- 
posed. Behind him was the double tradition of learning, 
the Irish and the Graeco-Roman. Through a long life of 
pious study, Bede drew into his mind, and incorporated in 
his writings, practically the total sum of knowledge then 
accessible in western Europe. He stands between the great 
Latin transmitters (Boethius, Cassiodorus, Gregory and 
Isidore) and the epoch known as the Carolingian. He was 
himself a transmitter of knowledge to that later time. If 
in spirit, race, epoch and circumstances, Aldhelm was Bede's 
direct forerunner, Bede had also a notable predecessor in 
Isidore. The writings of the Spanish bishop contributed 
substance and suggestions of plan and method to the Anglo- 
Saxon monk, whose works embrace practically the same 
series of topics as Isidore's, whose intellectual interests also, 
and attitude toward the Church Fathers, appear the same. 
But Bede was the more genial personality, and could not 
help imbuing his compositions with something from his 
own temperament. Even in his Commentaries upon the 
books of Scripture, which were made up principally of 
borrowed allegorical interpretations, there is common sense 
and some endeavour to present the actual meaning and 

1 On Aldhelm see Ebert, A llegemeine Ges. der Lit. des Mittelalters ; and Roger, 
L'Enseignement des lettres classiques, etc., p. 288 sqq. ; also Leslie Stephen in 
Diet. Nat. Biog., and R. Ehwald, " Aldhelm von Malmesbury," Konigl. Akad. zu 
Erfurt, N.F. xxxiii. (1907). 


situation. 1 But he disclaimed originality, as he says in the 
preface to his Commentary on the Hexaemeron, addressed 
to Bishop Acca of Hexham : 

" Concerning the beginning of Genesis where the creation of 
the world is described, many have said much, and have left to 
posterity monuments of their talents. Among these, as far as our 
feebleness can learn, we may distinguish Basil of Caesarea (whom 
Eustathius translated from Greek to Latin), Ambrose of Milan, 
and Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Of whom the first-named in 
nine books, the second following his footprints in six books, the 
third in twelve books and also in two others directed against the 
Manichaeans, shed floods of salutary doctrine for their readers ; 
and in them the promise of the Truth was fulfilled : ' Whoso 
believeth in me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living water. . . .' But since these works are so great 
that only the rich may own them, and so profound that they may 
be fathomed only by the learned, your holiness has seen fit to lay 
on us the task of plucking from them all, as from the sweetest 
wide-flowering fields of paradise, what might seem to meet the 
needs of weaklings." 2 

Bede was also a lovely story-teller. His literary charm 
and power appear in his Life of St. Cuthbert, and still more 
in his ever - famous Ecclesiastical History of the English 
People, so warm with love of mankind, and presenting so 
wonderful a series of dramatic stories animate with vital 
motive and the colour of incident and circumstance. Mid- 
way between the spontaneous genius of this work and the 
copied Scripture Commentary, stand Bede's grammatical, 
metrical, and scientific compositions, compiled with studious 
zeal. They evince a broad interest in scholarship and in 
nature. Still, neither material nor method was original. 
For instance, his De rerum natura took its plan and much 
of its substance from Isidore's work of the same name. 
Bede has, however, inserted further matter and made his 
work less of a mere shell of words than Isidore's. For he 

1 This is noticeable in his Commentary on the Gospel of John, Migne, Pat. 
Lot. 92, col. 633 sqq. 

2 Migne, Pat. Lat. 91, col. 9. In another prefatory epistle to the same bishop 
Acca, Bede intimates that he has abridged the language of the Fathers : he says 
it is inconvenient always to put their names in the text. Instead he has inscribed 
the proper initials of each Father in the margin opposite to whatever he may 
have taken from him {In Lucae Evangelium expositio, Migne 92, col. 304). 


is interested in connecting natural occurrences with their 
causes, stating, for example, that, the tides depend on the 
moon. 1 In this work as in his other opera didascalica, like 
the De temporum ratione and his learned De arte metrical 
he shows himself a more intelligent student than his Spanish 
predecessor. Yet he drew everything from some written 

One need not wonder at the voluminousness of Bede's 
literary productions. 3 Many of the writings emanating 
from monasteries are transcriptions rather than compositions. 
The circumstance that books, i.e. manuscripts, were rare and 
costly was an impelling motive. Isidore and Bede made 
systematic compilations for general use. They and their 
congeners would also make extracts from manuscripts, of 
which they might have but the loan, or from unique codices 
in order to preserve the contents. Such notes or excerpts 
might have the value of a treatise, and might be preserved 
and in turn transcribed as a distinct work. Yet whether 
made by a Bede or by a lesser man, they represent mainly 
the labour of a copyist. 

Bede's writings were all in Latin, and were intended 
for the instruction of monks. They played a most important 
role in the transmission of learning, sacred and profane, in 
Latin form. For its still more popular diffusion, transla- 
tions into the vernacular might be demanded. Such at all 
events were made of Scripture ; and perhaps a century and 
a half after Bede's death, the translation of edifying Latin 
books was undertaken by the best of Saxon kings. King 
Alfred was born in 849 and closed his eyes in 901. In the 
midst of other royal labours he set himself the task of 
placing before his people, or at least his clergy, Anglo- 
Saxon versions of some of the then most highly regarded 
volumes of instruction. The wise Pastoral Care of Gregory 
the Great ; his Dialogues, less wise according to our views ; 
the Histories of Orosius 4 and Bede ; and that philosophic 

1 Migne 90, col. 258 ; ibid. col. 422. I have not observed this statement 
in Isidore. 

2 All of these are in t. 90 of Migne. 

3 His writings fill about five volumes (90-95) in Migne's Patrol. Latina. A 
list may be found in the article " Bede " in the Dictionary of National Biography. 
Beda der Ehrwiirdige, by Karl Werner (Vienna, 1881), is a good monograph. 

4 Ante, p. 82 sqq. 


vade mecum of the Middle Ages, the De consolatione philo- 
sophiae of Boethius. Of these, Alfred translated the 
Pastoral Care and the De consolatione, also Orosius ; the 
other works appear to have been translated at his direction. 1 
Alfred's translations contain his own reflections and other 
matter not in the originals. In rendering Orosius, he re- 
wrote the geographical introduction, inserted a description 
of Germany and accounts of northern Europe given by two 
of his Norse liegemen, Ohthere and Wulfstan. The alert- 
ness of his mind is shown by this insertion of the latest 
geographical knowledge. Other and more personal passages 
will disclose his purpose, and illustrate the manner in which 
his Christianized intelligence worked upon trains of thought 
suggested perhaps by the Latin writing before him. 

Alfred's often-quoted preface to Gregory's Pastoral Care 
tells his reasons for undertaking its translation, and sets 
forth the condition of England. He speaks of the " wise 
men there formerly were throughout England, both of 
sacred and secular orders," and of their zeal in learning and 
teaching and serving God ; and how foreigners came to the 
land in search of wisdom and instruction. But " when I 
came to the throne," so general was the decay of learning 
in England " that there were very few on this side of the 
Humber who could understand their rituals in English, or 
translate a letter from Latin into English ; and I believe 
there were not many beyond the Humber. . . . Thanks be 
to God Almighty that we have any teachers among us now." 
Alfred therefore commands the bishop, to whom he is now 
sending the copy, to disengage himself as often as possible 
from worldly matters, and apply the Christian wisdom 
God has given him. " I remembered also how I saw, 
before it had been all ravaged and burnt, how the churches 
throughout the whole of England stood filled with treasures 
and books, and there was also a great multitude of God's 

1 The Works of King Alfred the Great are translated from Anglo-Saxon in 
the Jubilee edition of Giles (2 vols. London, 1858). The Pastoral Care and the 
Orosius are translated by Henry Sweet in the publications of the Early English 
Text Society. W. J. Sedgefield's translation of Alfred's version of the Consola- 
tions of Boethius is very convenient from the italicizing of the portions added by 
Alfred to Boethius's original. The extracts given in the following pages have 
been taken from these editions. 


servants, but they had very little knowledge of books, for 
they could not understand anything of them because they 
were not written in their own language." It therefore 
seemed wise to me " to translate some books which are 
most needful for all men to know, into the language which 
we can all understand, and . . . that all the youth now in 
England of free men, who are rich enough to be able to 
devote themselves to it, be set to learn so long as they are 
not fit for any other occupation, until that they are well 
able to read English writing : and let those be afterwards 
taught more in the Latin language who are to continue 
learning and be promoted to a higher rank." 

In the De consolatione of Boethius, the antique pagan 
thought, softened with human sympathy, and in need of 
such comfort and assurance as was offered by the Faith, 
is found occupied with questions (like that of free-will) 
prominent in Christianity. The book presented medita- 
tions which were so consonant with Christian views that its 
Christian readers from Alfred to Dante mistook them for 
Christian sentiments, and added further meanings naturally 
occurring to the Christian soul. Alfred's reflections in his 
version of the De consolatione are very personal to Saxon 
Alfred and show how he took his life and kingly office : 

" O Philosophy, thou knowest that I never greatly delighted 
in covetousness and the possession of earthly power, nor longed 
for this authority " — so far Boethius, 1 and now Alfred himself : 
" but I desired instruments and materials to carry out the work 
I was set to do, which was that I should virtuously and fittingly 
administer the authority committed unto me. Now no man, 
as thou knowest, can get full play for his natural gifts, nor conduct 
and administer government, unless he hath fit tools, and the raw 
material to work upon. By material I mean that which is 
necessary to the exercise of natural powers ; thus a king's raw 
material and instruments of rule are a well-peopled land, and he 
must have men of prayer, men of war, and men of work. As 
thou knowest, without these tools no king may display his special 
talent. Further, for his materials he must have means of support 
for the three classes above spoken of, which are his instruments ; 

1 Boethius's words, which Alfred here paraphrases and supplements, are as 
follows : " Turn ego, scis, inquam, ipsa minimum nobis ambitionem mortalium 
rerum fuisse dominatam ; sed materiam gerendis rebus optavimus, quo ne virtus 
tacita consenesceret " {De consol. phil. ii. prosa 7). 


and these means are land to dwell in, gifts, weapons, meat, ale, 
clothing, and what else soever the three classes need. Without 
these means he cannot keep his tools in order, and without these 
tools he cannot perform any of the tasks entrusted to him. [I 
have desired material for the exercise of government that my 
talents and my power might not be forgotten and hidden away J ] 
for every good gift and every power soon groweth old and is no 
more heard of, if Wisdom be not in them. Without Wisdom 
no faculty can be fully brought out, for whatsoever is done un- 
wisely can never be accounted as skill. To be brief, I may say 
that it has ever been my desire to live honourably while I was 
alive, and after my death to leave to them that should come after 
me my memory in good works." 

The last sentence needs no comment. But those pre- 
ceding it will be illuminated by another passage inserted 
by Alfred : 

" Therefore it is that a man never by his authority attains to 
virtue and excellence, but by reason of his virtue and excellence he 
attains to authority and power. No man is better for his power, 
but for his skill he is good, if he is good, and for his skill he is 
worthy of power, if he is worthy of it. Study Wisdom then, and, 
when ye have learned it, contemn it not, for I tell you that by its 
means ye may without fail attain to power, yea, even though not 
desiring it." 

Perhaps from the teaching of his own life Alfred knew, 
as well as Boethius, the toil and sadness of power : " Though 
their false hope and imagination lead fools to believe that 
power and wealth are the highest good, yet it is quite other- 
wise." And again, speaking of friendship, he says that 
Nature unites friends in love, " but by means of these worldly- 
goods and the wealth of this life we oftener make foes than 
friends," which doubtless Alfred had discovered, as well as 
Marcus Aurelius. Perhaps the Saxon king knew wherein 
lay peace, as he makes Wisdom say : " When I rise aloft 
with these my servants, we look down upon the storms of 
this world, even as the eagle does when he soars in stormy 
weather above the clouds, where no storm can harm him." 
The king was thinking of man's peace with God. 2 

1 The substance of this bracketed clause is in Boethius — the last words quoted 
in the preceding note. 

2 Towards the close of his life Alfred gathered some thoughts from Augustine's 
Soliloquies and from other writings, with which he mingled reflections of his own. 
He called the book Blossoms. He says in his preface : " I gathered me then 



Christianity came to the cities of Provincia and the chief 
Roman colonies of Gaul (Lyons, Treves, Cologne) in the 
course of the original dissemination of the Faith. There 
were Roman, Greek, or Syrian Christians in these towns 
before the end of the second century. Early Gallic Christi- 
anity spoke Greek and Latin, and its rather slow advance 
was due partly to the tenacity of Celtic speech even in the 
cities ; while outside of them heathen speech and practices 
were scarcely touched. Through Gaul and along the Rhine, 
the country in the main continued heathen in religion, and 
Celtic or Germanic in speech, during the fifth century. 1 
The complete Latinizing of Gaul and the conversion of its 
rural population proceeded from the urban churches, and 
from the labours and miracles of anchorites and monks. 
In contrast with the decay of the municipal governments, 
the urban churches continued living institutions. Their 
bishops usually were men of energy. The episcopal office 
was elective, yet likely to remain in the same influential 
family, and the bishop, the leading man in the town, might 
be its virtual ruler. He represented Christianity and Latin 
culture, and when Roman officials yielded to Teutonic 
conquerors, the bishop was left as the spokesman of the 

staves and props, and bars, and helves for each of my tools, and boughs ; and 
for each of the works that I could work, I took the fairest trees, so far as I might 
carry them away. Nor did I ever bring any burden home without longing to 
bring home the whole wood, if that might be ; for in every tree I saw something 
of which I had need at home. Wherefore I exhort every one who is strong, and 
has many wains, that he direct his steps to the same wood where I cut the props. 
Let him there get him others, and load his wains with fair twigs, that he may 
weave thereof many a goodly wain, and set up many a noble house, and build 
many a pleasant town, and dwell therein in mirth and ease, both winter and 
summer, as I could never do hitherto. But He who taught me to love that 
wood, He may cause me to dwell more easily, both in this transitory dwelling . . . 
and also in the eternal home which He has promised us " (Translation borrowed 
from The Life and Time of Alfred the Great, by C. Plummer, Clarendon Press, 
1902). These metaphors represent Alfred's way of putting what Isidore or Bede 
or Alcuin meant when they spoke in their prefaces of searching through the 
pantries of the Fathers or culling the sweetest flowers from the patristic meadows. 
See e.g. ante, Chapter V. and post, Chapter X. 

1 Far into the Frankish period there were many heathen in northern Gaul 
and along the Rhine : Hauck, Kirchengeschichte Dents chlands, I. Kap. i. (second 
edition, Leipzig, 1898). Cf. Vacandard, " L'Idolatrie en Gaule au VI e et au 
VII e siecles," Rev. des questions historiques, 65 (1899), 424-454. 


Gallo-Roman population. Thus the Gallic churches, far 
from succumbing before the barbarian invasions, rescued 
and appropriated the derelict functions of government, and 
emerged aggrandized from the political and racial revolution. 
In the year 400 the city of Treves was Latin in speech and 
Roman in government ; in the year 500 the Roman govern- 
ment had been overthrown, and a German-speaking popula- 
tion predominated in what was left of the city, but the 
church went on unchanged in constitution and in language. 

There was constant intercourse between Teutons and 
Romans along the northern boundaries of the Empire. In 
the Danube regions many of the former were converted. 
The Goths, through the labours of Ulfilas and others in the 
fourth century, became Arian Christians ; their conversion 
was of moment to themselves and others, but destiny severed 
the continuity of its import for history. In the provinces of 
Rhaetia, Vindelicia, and Noricum there were Christians, some 
of them Teutons, as early as the time of Constantine. For 
the next century, when disruption of the Empire was in full 
progress, the Life of St. Severinus by Eugippius, his disciple, 
gives the picture. 1 Bits and fragments of Roman govern- 
ment endured ; letters were not quite quenched ; but 
Alemanni and Rugii moved as they would, marauding, 
besieging, and destroying. Everywhere there was un- 
certainty and confusion, and yet civilized Roman provincials 
still clung to a driven life. Through this mountain land, 
the monk Severinus went here and there, barefoot even in 
ice and snow, austere, commanding. He encouraged the 
townspeople to maintain decency and courage ; he turned 
the barbarians from ruthlessness. Clear-seeing, capable, 
his energies shielded the land. He was an ascetic who took 
nothing for himself, and won men to the Faith by this 
guarantee of disinterestedness. So he shepherded his 
harrowed flocks, and more than once averted their destruc- 
tion. But his arm was too feeble ; after his death even his 
cell was plundered, while the confusion swept on. - 

Such were fifth - century conditions on the northern 
boundary of what had been the Empire, conditions amid 

1 Mon. Germ. hist. Auctores antiquissimi, torn. i. Cf. Ebert, Ges. der Lit. 
des Mittelalters, i. 452 sqq. 


which the culture and doctrine germane to Christianity went 
down, although the Faith still glimmered here and there. 
Farther to the west, the Burgundians had gained a domicile 
in a land sparsely tenanted by Roman and Catholic pro- 
vincials. Here on the left bank of the Rhine, in the neigh- 
bourhood of Worms, this people accepted the Christianity 
which they found. Afterwards, in the year 430, their 
heathen kin on the right bank were baptized as a people ; 
for they hoped, through aid from fellow-Christians, to ward 
off the destruction threatening from the Huns. Yet five 
years later they were overthrown by those savage riders — 
an overthrow out of which was to rise the Nibelungenlied. 
The Burgundian remnants found a new home by the 

The Christianity of Burgundians and Goths was subject 
to the vicissitudes of their fortunes. The permanent con- 
version to Catholicism of the great masses of the Germans 
commenced somewhat later, when the turmoil of fifth- 
century migration was settling into contests for homes 
destined to prove more lasting. Its beginning may be dated 
from the baptism of Clovis as a Catholic on Christmas Day 
in the year 496. His retainers followed him into the con- 
secrated water. By reason of the king's genius for war and 
politics, this event was the beginning of the final triumph of 
Catholicism. 1 

The baptism of Clovis and his followers was typical of 
early Teutonic conversions. King and tribal following acted 
as a unit. Christ gave victory ; He was the mightier God : 
such was the crude form of the motive. Its larger scope was 
grasped by the far-seeing king. Believing in supernatural 
aid, he desired it from the mightiest source, which, he was 
persuaded, was the Christian God. It was to be obtained 
by such homage to Christ as heretofore the king had paid 
to Wuotan. Any doubt as to the sincerity of his belief 
presupposes a point of view impossible for a fifth-century 
barbarian. But to this sincere expectation of Christ's aid, 
to be gained through baptism, Clovis joined careful con- 
sideration of the political situation. Catholic Christianity 
was the religion of the Gallo-Roman population forming the 

1 Cf. ante, Chapter VI. 


greater part of the Frankish king's subjects. He knew of 
Arian peoples ; probably attempts had been made to draw 
him to their side. They constituted the great Teutonic 
powers at the time ; for Theodoric was the monarch of Italy, 
and Arian Teutons ruled in southern France, in Spain, and 
Africa. Nevertheless, it was of paramount importance for 
the establishment of his kingdom that there should be no 
schism between the Franks and the Gallo-Roman people 
who exceeded them in number and in wealth and culture. 
Catholic influences surrounded Clovis ; Catholic interests 
represented the wealth and prosperity of his dominions, and 
when he decided to be baptized he did not waver between 
the Catholic and the Arian belief. Thus the king attached 
to himself the civilized population of his realm. A common 
Catholic faith quickly obliterated racial antagonism within 
its boundaries and gained him the support of Catholic church 
and people in the kingdoms of his Arian rivals. 

So under Clovis and his successors the Gallic Church 
became the Frankish Church, and flourished exceedingly. 
Tithes were paid it, and gifts were made by princes and 
nobles. Its lands increased, carrying their dependent 
population, until the Church became the largest landholder 
in the Merovingian realm. It was governed by Roman law, 
but the clergy were subject to the penal jurisdiction of the 
king. 1 It was he that summoned councils, although he did 
not vote and left ecclesiastical matters to the bishops, who 
were his liegemen and appointees. 2 They recognized the 
king's virtually unlimited authority, which they patterned 
on the absolute power of the Roman Emperors and the 
prerogatives of David and Solomon. In fine, the Mero- 
vingian Church was a national church, subject to the king. 
Until the seventh century it was quite independent of the 
Bishop of Rome. 3 

It is common knowledge — especially vivid with readers 

1 In those of its lands which were granted immunity from public burdens, 
the Church gradually acquired a jurisdiction by reason of its right to exact 
penalties, which elsewhere fell to the king. 

2 The synod of 549 declared (ineffectually) for the election of bishops, to be 
followed by royal confirmation. 

3 Hauck, Kirchenges. Deutschlands, Bd. I. Buch. ii. Kap. ii. ; Moller, Kirchen- 
geschichte, Bd. II. p. 52 sqq. (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1893). 


of the famous Historia Francorum of Gregory of Tours — 
that, ethically viewed, the conduct of the Merovingian house 
was cruel, treacherous, and abominable ; and likewise the 
conduct of their vassals. Frankish kings and nobles appear 
as men no longer bound by the ethics of the heathenism 
which they had forsworn, and as yet untouched by the 
moral precepts of the Christian code. Not Christianity, 
however, but contact with decadent civilization, and rapid 
increase of power and wealth, had loosened their heathen 
standards. Merovingian history leaves a unique impression 
of a line of rulers and dependents among whom mercy and 
truth and chastity were unknown. The elements of sixth- 
century Christianity which the Franks made their own were 
its rites, its magic, and its miracles, and its expectation of 
the aid of a God and His saints duly solicited. Here the 
customs of heathenism were a preparation, or themselves 
passed into Frankish Christianity. Nevertheless, the general 
character of Christian observances — baptism, the mass, 
prayer, the sign of the cross, the rites at marriage, sickness, 
and death — could not fail to impress a certain tone and 
demeanour upon the people, and impart some sense of human 
sinfulness. The general conviction that patent and out- 
rageous crime would bring divine vengeance gained point 
and power from the terrific doctrine of the Day of Wrath, 
and the system of penances imposed by the clergy proved 
an excellent discipline with these rough Christians. Many 
bishops and priests were little better than the nobles, yet 
the Church preserved Christian belief and did something to 
improve morality. Everywhere the monk was the most 
striking object-lesson, with his austerities, his terror-stricken 
sense of sinfulness, and conviction of the peril of the world. 
No martial, grasping bishop, no dissolute and treacherous 
priest denied that the monk's was the ideal Christian life ; 
and the laity stood in awe, or expectation, of the wonder- 
working power of his asceticism. Indeed monasticism was 
becoming popular, and the Merovingian period witnessed 
the foundation of numberless cloisters. 

In the fifth and through part of the sixth century the 
Gallic monastery of Lerins, on an island in the Mediterranean, 
near Frejus, was a chief source of ascetic and Christian 


influence for Gaul. Its monks took their precepts from 
Syria and Egypt, and some of the zeal of St. Martin of 
Tours had fallen on their shoulders. As the energy of this 
community declined, Columban's monastery at Luxeuil 
succeeded to the work. The example of Columbanus, his 
precepts and severe monastic discipline, proved a source of 
ascetic and missionary zeal. With him or following in his 
steps came other Irishmen ; and heathen German lands soon 
looked upon the walls of many an Irish monastery. But 
Columbanus failed, and all the Irish failed, in obedience, 
order, and effective organization. His own monastic regula, 
with all its rigour, contained no provisions for the govern- 
ment of the monasteries. Without due ordering, bands of 
monks dwelling in heathen communities would waver in their 
practices and even show a lack of doctrinal stability. Sooner 
or later they were certain to become confused in habit and 
contaminated with the manners of the surrounding people. 
These Irish monasteries omitted to educate a native priest- 
hood to perpetuate their Christian teaching. The best of 
them, St. Gall (founded by Columbanus's disciple Gallus), 
might be a citadel of culture, and convert the people about 
it, through the talents and character of its founder and his 
successors. But other monasteries, farther to the east, were 
tainted with heathen practices. In fine, it was not for the 
Irish to convert the great heathen German land, or effect a 
lasting reform of existing churches there or in Gaul. 

The labours of Anglo-Saxons were fraught with more 
enduring results. Through their abilities and zeal, their 
faculty of organization and capacity of submitting to 
authority, through their consequent harmony with Rome 
and the support given them by the Frankish monarchy, 
these Anglo-Saxons converted many German tribes, estab- 
lished permanent churches among them, reorganized the 
heterogeneous Christianity which they found in certain 
German lands, and were a moving factor in the reform of the , 
Frankish Church. The most striking features of their work 
on the Continent were diocesan organization, the training of 
a native clergy, the establishment of monasteries under the 
Benedictine constitution, union with Rome, obedience to 
her commands, strenuous conformity to her law, and in- 


sistence on like conformity in others. Their presentation 
of Christianity was orthodox, regular, and authoritative. 

Some of these features appear in the work of the Saxon 
Willibrord among the Frisians, but are more largely illus- 
trated in the career of St. Boniface-Winfried. Willibrord 
moved under the authority of Rome ; the varying fortunes 
of his labours were connected with the enterprises of Pippin 
of Heristal, the father of Charles Martel. They advanced 
with the power of that Frankish potentate. But after his 
death, during the strife between Neustria and Austrasia, the 
heathen Frisian king Radbod drove back Christianity as 
he enlarged his dominion at the expense of the divided 
Franks. Later, Charles Martel conquered him, and the 
Frankish power reached (718) to the Zuyder Zee. Under 
its protection Willibrord at last founded the bishopric of 
Utrecht (734). He succeeded in educating a native clergy ; 
and his labours had lasting result among the Frisians who 
were subject to the Franks, but not among the free Frisians 
and the Danes. 

Evidently there was no sharp geographical boundary 
between Christianity and heathendom. Throughout broad 
territories, Christian and heathen practices mingled. This 
was true of the Frisian land. It was true in greater range 
and complexity of the still wider fields of Boniface's career. 
This able man surrendered his high station in his native 
Wessex in order to serve Christ more perfectly as a mission- 
ary monk among the heathen. He went first to Frisia 
and worked with Willibrord, yet refused to be his bishop- 
coadjutor and successor, because planning to carry Chris- 
tianity into Germany. 

His life strikingly exemplifies Anglo-Saxon faculties 
working under the directing power of Rome among heathen 
and partly Christian peoples. On his first visit to Rome he 
became imbued with the principles, and learned the ritual, 
of the Roman Church. He returned to enter into relations 
with Charles Martel, and to labour in Hesse and Thuringia, 
and again with Willibrord in Frisia. Not long afterwards, 
at his own solicitation, Gregory II. called him back to 
Rome (722), where he fed his passion for punctilious con- 
formity by binding himself formally to obey the Pope, 


follow the practices of the Roman Church, and have no 
fellowship with bishops whose ways conflicted with them. 
Gregory made him bishop over Thuringia and Hesse, and 
sent him back there to reform Christian and heathen com- 
munities. Thus Gregory created a bishop within the bounds 
of the Frankish kingdom — an unprecedented act. Never- 
theless, Charles, to whom Boniface came with a letter from 
Gregory, received him favourably and furnished him with 
a safe conduct, only exacting a recognition of his own 

Boniface set forth upon his mission. In Hesse he cut 
down the ancient heathen oak, and made a chapel of its 
timber ; he preached and he organized — the land was not 
altogether heathen. Then he proceeded to Thuringia. 
That also was a partly Christian land ; many Irish-Scottish 
preachers were labouring or dwelling there. Boniface set 
his face against their irregularities as firmly as against 
heathenism. Again he dominated and reorganized, yet 
continued unfailing in energetic preaching to the heathen. 
Gregory watched closely and zealously co-operated. 

On the death of the second Gregory in 731, the third 
Gregory succeeded to the papacy and continued his pre- 
decessor's support of the Anglo-Saxon apostle, making him 
archbishop with authority to ordain bishops. Many Anglo- 
Saxons, both men and holy women, came to aid their 
countryman, and brought their education and their nobler 
views of life to form centres of Christian culture in the 
German lands. Cloisters for nuns, cloisters for monks were 
founded. The year 744 witnessed the foundation of Fulda 
by Sturm under the direction of Boniface, and destined to 
be the very apple of his eye and the monastic model for 
Germany. It was placed under the authority of Rome, with 
the consent of Pippin, who then ruled. The reorganization 
rather than the conversion of Bavaria was Boniface's next 
achievement. The land long before had been partially 
Romanized, and now was nominally Christian. Here again 
Boniface acted as representative of the Pope, and not of 
Charles, although Bavaria was part of the Frankish empire. 

The year 738 brought Boniface to Rome for the third 
time. He was now yearning to leave the fields already 


tilled, and go as missionary to the heathen Saxons. But 
Gregory sent him back to complete the reorganization of 
the Bavarian Church, and to this large field of action he 
added also Alemannia with its diocesan centre at Speyer. 
Here he came in conflict with Frankish bishops, firm in their 
secular irregularities. Yet again he prevailed, reorganized 
the churches, and placed them under the authority of Rome. 
Evidently the two Gregories had in large measure turned 
the energies of Boniface from the mission-field to the labours 
of reform. 

On the death of Charles in 741 (and in the same year 
died Gregory, to be succeeded by the lukewarm Zacharias) 
his sons Carloman and Pippin succeeded to his power. The 
following year Carloman in German-speaking Austrasia called 
a council of his church (Concilium Germanicum primum) 
under the primacy of Boniface. Its decrees confirmed the 
reforms for which the latter had struggled : 

" We Carloman, Duke and Prince of the Franks, in the year 742 
of the Incarnation, on the 21st of April, upon the advice of the 
servants of God, the bishops and priests of our realm, have 
assembled them to take counsel how God's law and the Church's 
discipline (fallen to ruin under former princes) may be restored, 
and the Christian folk led to salvation, instead of perishing 
deceived by false priests. We have set up bishops in the cities, 
and have set over them as archbishop Bonifatius, the legate of 
St. Peter." 

The council decreed that yearly synods should be held, 
that the possessions taken from the Church should be re- 
stored, and the false priests deprived of their emoluments 
and forced to do penance. The clergy were forbidden to 
bear arms, go to war, or hunt. Every priest should give 
yearly account of his stewardship to his bishop. Bishops, 
supported by the count in the diocese, should suppress 
heathen practices. Punishments were set for the fleshly 
sins of monks and nuns and clergy, and for the priestly 
offences of wearing secular garb or harbouring women. The 
Benedictine rule was appointed for monasteries. It was 
easier to make these decrees than carry them out against 
the opposition of such martial bishops as those of Mainz 
and Treves, whose support was necessary to Carloman's 


government ; and military conditions rendered the restora- 
tion of Church lands impracticable. Yet the word was 
spoken, and something was done. 

The next year in Neustria Pippin instituted like reforms. 
He was aided by Boniface, although the latter held no 
ecclesiastical office there. In 747 Carloman abdicated and 
retired to a monastery ; * and Pippin became sole ruler, and 
at last formally king, anointed by Boniface under the 
direction of the Pope in 752. After this, Boniface, with- 
drawing from the direction of the Church, turned once more 
to satisfy his heart's desire by going on a mission among 
the heathen Frisians, where he crowned a great life with a 
martyr's death. 

Thus authoritatively, supported by Rome and the 
Frankish monarchy, Christianity was presented to the 
Germans. It carried suggestions of a better order and 
some knowledge of Latin letters. The extension of Roman 
Catholic Christianity was the aim of Boniface first and last 
and always. But a Latin education was needed by the 
clergy to enable them to understand and set forth this some- 
what elaborated and learned scheme of salvation. Boniface 
and his coadjutors had no aversion to the literary means by 
which a serviceable Latin knowledge was to be obtained, 
and their missionary and reorganizing labours necessarily 
worked some diffusion of Latinity. 

1 Carloman went at first to Rome, and built a monastery, in which he lived 
for a while. But here his contemptum regni terreni brought him more renown 
than his monk's soul could endure. So, with a single companion, he fled, and 
came unmarked and in abject guise to Monte Cassino. He announced himself 
as a murderer seeking to do penance, and was received on probation. At the 
end of a year he took the vows of a monk. It happened that he was put to help 
in the kitchen, where he worked humbly but none too dexterously, and was 
chidden and struck by the cook for his clumsiness. At which he said with placid 
countenance, " May the Lord forgive thee, brother, and Carloman." This occur- 
ring for the third time, his follower fell on the cook and beat him. When the 
uproar had subsided, and an investigation was called before the brethren, the 
follower said in explanation, that he could not hold back, seeing the vilest of the 
vile strike the noblest of all. The brethren seemed contemptuous, till the follower 
proclaimed that this monk was Carloman, once King of the Franks, who had 
relinquished his kingdom for the love of Christ. At this the terrified monks rose 
from their seats and flung themselves at Carloman's feet, imploring pardon, and 
pleading their ignorance. But Carloman, rolling on the ground before them (in 
terram provolutus) denied it all with tears, and said he was not Carloman, but a 
common murderer. Nevertheless, thenceforth, recognized by all, he was treated 
with great reverence (Regino, Chronicon, Migne, Pat. Lot. 132, col. 45). 


The Frankish secular power which had supported 
Boniface, advanced to violent action when Charlemagne's 
sword bloodily constrained the Saxons to accept his rule 
and Christianity, the two inseverable objects which he 
tirelessly pursued. Nor could this ruler stay his mighty 
hand from the government of the Church within his realm. 
With his power to appoint bishops, he might, if he chose, 
control its councils. But apparently he chose to rule the 
Church directly ; and his, and his predecessors' and 
successors' Capitularies (rather than Conciliar decrees) 
contain the chief ecclesiastical legislation for the Frankish 

In its temporalities and secular action the Church was 
the greatest and richest of all subjects ; it possessed the 
rights of lay vassals and was affected with like duties. 1 But 
in ritual, doctrine, language and affiliation, the Frankish 
Church made part of the Roman Catholic Church. It used 
the Roman liturgy and the Latin tongue. The ordering of 
the clergy was Roman, and the regulation of the monasteries 
was Romanized by the adoption of the Benedictine regula. 
Within the Church Rome had triumphed. Prelates were 
vassals of the king who had now become Emperor ; and the 
great corporate Church was subject to him. Nevertheless, 
this great corporate institution was Roman rather than 
Gallic or Frankish or German. It was Teuton only in those 
elements which represented ecclesiastical abuses, for example, 
the remaining irregularities of various kinds, the lay and 
martial habits of prelates, and even their appointment by 
the monarch. These were the elements which the Church in 
its logical Roman evolution was to eliminate. Charlemagne 
himself, as well as his lesser successors, strove just as zealously 
to bring the people into obedience to the Church as into 
obedience to the lay rulers. While the Carolingian rule was 
strong, its power was exerted on behalf of ecclesiastical 

1 For example, immunity (from governmental taxation and visitation) might 
attach to the lands of bishops and abbots, as it might to the lands of a lay potentate. 
On the other hand, the lands of bishops and abbots owed the Government such 
temporal aid in war and peace as would have attached to them in the hands of 
laymen. Such dignitaries had high secular rank. The king did not interfere 
with the appointment and control of the lower clergy by their lords, the bishops 
and abbots, any more than he did with the domestic or administrative appoint- 
ments of great lay functionaries within their households or jurisdictions. 


authority and discipline ; and when the royal administration 
weakened after Charlemagne's death, the Church was not 
slow to revolt against its temporal subjection to the royal 

But the Church, in spite of Latin and Roman affinities, 
strove also to come near the German peoples and speak to 
them in their own tongues. This is borne witness to by 
the many translations from Latin into Frankish, Saxon, 
or Alemannish dialects, made by the clergy. Christianity 
deeply affected the German language. Many of its words 
received German form, and the new thoughts forced old 
terms to take on novel and more spiritual meanings. To be 
sure, these German dialects were there before Christianity 
came, and the capacities of the Germans acquired in heathen 
times are attested by the sufficiency of their language to 
express Christian thought. Likewise the German character 
was there, and proved its range and quality by the very 
transformation of which it showed itself capable under 
Christianity. And just as Christianity was given expression 
in the German language, which retained many of its former 
qualities, so many fundamental traits of German character 
remained in the converted people. Yet so earnestly did the 
Germans turn to Christianity, and such draughts of its spirit 
did they draw into their nature, that the early Germanic 
re-expression of it is sincere, heartfelt, and moving, and 
illumined with understanding of the Faith. 

These qualities may be observed in the series of Christian 
documents in the German tongues commencing in the first 
years of Charlemagne's reign. They consist of baptismal 
confessions of belief, the first of which (cir. 769) was com- 
posed for heathen Saxons just converted by the sword, and 
of catechisms presenting the elements of Christian precept 
and dogma. The earliest of the latter (cir. 789), coming 
from the monastery at Weissenburg in Alsace, contains 
the Lord's Prayer, with explanations, an enumeration of 
the deadly sins according to the fifth chapter of the Epistle 
to the Galatians, the Apostles' Creed and the Athanasian. 
Further, one finds among these documents a translation of 
the De fide Catholica of Isidore of Seville, and of the Bene- 
dictine regula ; also Charlemagne's Exhortatio ad plebem 


Christianam, which was an admonition to the people to learn 
the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. There are likewise general 
confessions of sins. .Less dependent on a Latin original is 
the so-called Muspilli, a spirited description in alliterative 
verse of the last times and the Day of Judgment. 

German qualities, however, express themselves more fully 
in two Gospel versions, the first the famous Saxon Heliand 
(cir. 835), (which follows Tatian's " Harmony ") ; the second 
the somewhat later Evangelienbuch of Otfrid the Frank. 
They were both composed in alliterative verse, though Otfrid 
also made use of rhyme. 1 The martial, Teutonic ring of the 
former is well known. Christ is the king, the disciples are 
His thanes whose duty is to stand by their lord to the death ; 
He rewards them with the promised riches of heaven, excel- 
ling the earthly goods bestowed by other kings. In the 
" betrayal " they close around their Lord, saying : " Were 
it thy will, mighty Lord of ours, that we should set upon 
them with the spear, gladly would we strike and die for our 
Lord." Out broke the wrath of the " ready swordsman " 
(snel suerdthegan) 2 Simon Peter ; he could not speak for 
anguish to think that his lord should be bound. Angrily 
strode the bold knight before his lord, drew his weapon, the 
sword by his side, and smote the nearest foe with might of 
hands. Before his fury and the spurting blood the people 
fled fearing the sword's bite. 

The Heliand has also gentler qualities, as when it calls 
the infant Christ the fridubarn (peace-child), and pictures 
Mary watching over her " little man." But German love of 
wife and child and home speak more clearly in Otfrid's book. 
Although a learned monk, his pride of Frankish race rings 
in his oft-quoted reasons for writing theotisce, i.e. in German : 
why shall not the Franks sing God's praise in Frankish 

1 There are numerous editions of the Heliand : by Sievers (1878), by Riickert 
(1876). Very complete is Heyne's third edition (Paderborn, 1883). Portions of 
it are given, with modern German interlinear translation, in Piper's Die dlteste 
Literatur (Deutsche Nat. Lit.), pp. 164-186. Otfrid's book is elaborately edited 
by Piper (2nd edition with notes and glossary, Freiburg i. B., 1882). See also 
Piper's Die dlteste Literatur, where portions of the work are given with modern 
German interlinear translation. Compare Ebert, Literatur des Mittelalters, iii. 

2 The Heliand uses the epic phrases of popular poetry ; they reappear three 
centuries later in the Nibelungenlied. 


tongue ? Forcible and logical it is, although not bound by 
grammar's rules. Yes, why should the Franks be incapable ? 
they are brave as Romans or Greeks ; they are as good in 
field and wood ; wide power is theirs, and ready are they 
with the sword. They are rich, and possess a good land, 
with honour. They can guard their own ; what people is 
their equal in battle ? Diligent are they also in the Word 
of God. Otfrid is quite moving in his sympathetic sense of 
the sorrow of the Last Judgment, when the mother from 
child shall be parted, the father from son, the lord from his 
faithful thane, friend from friend — all human kind. Deep 
is the mystic love and yearning with which he realizes 
Heaven as one's own land : there is life without death, light 
without darkness, the angels and eternal bliss. We have 
left it — that must we bewail always, banished to a strange 
land, poor misled orphans. The antithesis between the 
fremidemo lant (fremdes land) of earth, and the heimat, the 
eigan lant of heaven, which is home, real home, is the key- 
note strongly felt and movingly expressed. 






With the conversion of Teuton peoples and their intro- 
duction to the Latin culture accompanying the new religion, 
the factors of mediaeval development came at last into con- 
junction. The mediaeval development was to issue from 
their combined action, rather than from the singular nature 
of any one of them. 1 Taking up the introductory theme 
concerning the meeting of these forces, we followed the 
Latinizing of the West resulting from the expansion of the 
Roman Republic, which represents the political and social 
preparation of the field. Then we considered the antique 
pagan gospel of philosophy and letters, which had quickened 
this Latin civilization and was to form the spiritual environ- 
ment of patristic Christianity. Next in order we observed 
the intellectual interests of the Latin Fathers, and then 
turned to the great Latin transmitters of the somewhat 
amalgamated antique and patristic material — Boethius, 
Cassiodorus, Gregory the Great, and Isidore of Seville — 
who gathered what they might, and did much to reduce 
the same to decadent forms, suited to the barbaric under- 
standing. Then the course of the barbaric disruption of 
the Empire was reviewed ; and this led to a consideration 
of the qualities and circumstances of the Celts and Teutons, 
both those who to all appearances had been Latinized, and 
those who took active part in the barbarization and dis- 
ruption of the Roman order. And finally we closed these 

1 Ante, Chapter I. 


introductory, though essential, chapters by tracing the 
ways in which Christianity, with the now humbled and 
degraded antique culture, was presented to this renewed 
and largely Teutonic barbarism. 

Having now reached the epoch of conjunction of the 
various elements of the mediaeval evolution, it lies before us 
to consider the first stage in the action of true mediaeval 
conditions upon the two chief spiritual forces, the first stage, 
in other words, of the mediaeval appropriation of the 
patristic and antique material. The period is what is 
called Carlovingian or Carolingian, after the great ruler 
Charlemagne. Intellectually considered, it may be said 
to have begun when Charles palpably evinced his interest 
in sacred and liberal studies by calling Alcuin and other 
scholars to his Court about the year 781. Let us note the 
political and social situation. 

The Merovingian kingdom created by Clovis and his 
house has been spoken of. 1 One may properly refer to it 
in the singular, although frequently, instead of one, there 
were several kingdoms, since upon the death of a Mero- 
vingian monarch his realm was divided among his sons. 
But no true son of the house could leave the others un- 
conquered or unmurdered ; and therefore if the Merovingian 
kingdom constantly was divided, it also tended to coalesce 
again, coerced to unity. Constituted both of Roman and 
Teutonic elements, it operated as a mediating power between 
Latin Christendom and barbaric heathendom. Its energies 
were great, and were not waning when its royal house was 
passing into insignificance before the power of the nobles 
and the chief personage among them who had become the 
major domus (" Mayor of the palace ") and virtual ruler. 
Moreover, experience, contact with Latin civilization, 
membership in the Roman Catholic Church, were inform- 
ing the Merovingian energies. They were becoming just a 
little less barbarous and a little more instructed ; in fine, 
were changing from Merovingian to Carolingian. 

In the latter part of the seventh century, Pippin, called 
" of Heristal," ruled as major domus (as one or more of his 
ancestors before him) in Austrasia, the eastern Frankish 

1 Ante, Chapter VI. 


kingdom. Many were his wars, especially with the Neustrian 
or western Frankish kingdom, under its major domus, 
Ebroin. This somewhat unconquerable man at last was 
murdered, and one of the two Merovingian kings being 
murdered likewise, Pippin about the year 688 became 
princeps regiminis ac major domus for the now united realm. 
From this date the Merovingians are but shadow kings, 
whose names are not worth recording. Pippin's rule marks 
the advent of his house to virtual sovereignty, and also the 
passing of the preponderance of power from Neustria to 
Austrasia. These two facts became clear after Pippin's 
death (714), when his redoubtable son Charles in a five 
years' struggle against great odds made himself sole major 
domus, and with his Austrasians overwhelmed the Neustrian 
army. Thenceforth this Charles, called Martel the Hammer, 
mightily prevailed, smiting Saxons, Bavarians, and 
Alemanni, and, after much warfare in the south with 
Saracens, at last vindicated the Cross against the Crescent 
at Tours in 732. Nine years longer he was to reign, in- 
creasing his power to the end, and supporting the establish- 
ment of Catholicism in Frisia, by the Anglo-Saxon 
Willibrord, and in heathen German lands by St. Boniface. 1 
He died in 741, dividing what virtually was his realm 
between his sons Carloman and Pippin : the former receiving 
Austrasia, Alemannia, Thuringia ; the latter, Neustria, 
Burgundy, Provence. 

These two sons valiantly took up their task, reforming 
the Church under the inspiration of Boniface, and ruling 
their domains without conflict with each other until 747, 
when Carloman retired and became a monk, leaving the 
entire realm to Pippin. The latter in 751 at Soissons, 
with universal approval and the consent of the Pope, was 
crowned king, and anointed by the hand of Boniface. This 
able sovereign pursued the course of his father and grand- 
father on still larger scale ; aiding the popes and reducing 
the Lombard power in Italy, carrying on wars around 
the borders of his realm, bringing Aquitania to full 
submission, and expelling the Saracens from Nar- 
bonne and other fortress towns. In 768 he died, again 

1 Ante, Chapter IX. 


dividing his vast realm between his two sons Carloman 
and Charles. 

These bore each other little love ; but fortunately the 
former died (771) before an open breach occurred. So 
Charles was left to rule alone, and prove himself, all things 
considered, the greatest of mediaeval sovereigns. Having 
fought his many wars of conquest and subjugation against 
Saracens, Saxons, Avars, Bavarians, Slavs, Danes, Lom- 
bards ; having conquered much of Italy and freed the Pope 
from neighbouring domination ; having been crowned and 
anointed emperor in the year 800 ; having opened new 
roads for commerce and forbidden lawless tolls ; having 
regulated measures, weights, and coinage ; having chris- 
tianized with iron hand much stubborn heathen folk ; 
having restored letters, uplifted the church, and admini- 
stered his vast realm with never-failing energy, he died in 
814 — just one hundred years after the time when his 
grandfather Charles was left to fight so doughtily for life 
and power. 

Poetry and history have conspired to raise the fame of 
Charlemagne. In more than one chanson de geste, the 
old French epopee has put his name where that of Pippin, 
Charles Martel, or perhaps that of some Merovingian should 
have been. 1 Sober history has not thus falsified its matter, 
and yet has over-dramatized the incidents of its hero's 
reign. For example, every schoolboy has been told of the 
embassy to Charlemagne from Harun al Raschid, Caliph of 
Bagdad. But not so many schoolboys know that Pippin 
had sent an embassy to a previous caliph, which was courte- 
ously entertained for three years in Bagdad ; 2 and Pippin, 
like his son, received embassies from the Greek emperor. 
The careers of Charles Martel and Pippin have not been 
ignored ; and yet historical convention has focused its 
attention and its phrases upon " the age of Charlemagne." 
One should not forget that this exceedingly great man stood 
upon the shoulders of the great men to whose achievement 
he succeeded. 

1 E.g. Charles Martel and Pippin drove the Saracens from Narbonne — not 
Charlemagne, to whom these chansons ascribe the deed : Pippin regulated the 
coinage, as well as Charlemagne. 

2 The dates are 801 and 765. 


Neither politically, socially, intellectually, nor geo- 
graphically 1 was there discontinuity or break or sudden 
change between the Merovingian and the Carolingian 
periods. 2 The character of the monarchy was scarcely 
affected by the substitution of the house of Pippin of Heristal 
for the house of Clovis. The baleful custom of dividing 
the realm upon a monarch's death survived ; but Fortune 
rendered it innocuous through one strong century, during 
which (719-814) the realm was free from internecine war, 
while the tossing streams of humanity were driven onward 
by three great successive rulers. 

The Carolingian, like the Merovingian, realm included 
many different peoples who were destined never to become 
one nation ; and the whole Carolingian system of govern- 
ment virtually had existed in the Merovingian period. 
Before, as well as after, the dynastic change, the government 
throughout the realm was administered by Counts. Like- 
wise the famous missi dominici, or royal legates, are found 
in Merovingian times ; but they were employed more 
effectively by Charles Martel, Pippin, and, finally, by 
Charlemagne, who enlarged their sphere of action. He 
elaborately defined their functions in a famous Capitulary 
of the year 802. It was set forth that the emperor had 
chosen these legates from among his best and greatest 
{ex optimatibus suis), and had authorized them to receive the 
new oaths of allegiance, and supervise the observance of 
the laws, the execution of justice, the maintenance of the 
military and fiscal rights of the emperor. They were given 
power to see that the permanent functionaries (the counts 
and their subordinates) duly administered the law as written 

1 Historical atlases usually devote a double map to the Empire of Charlemagne, 
and little side-maps to the Merovingian realm, which included vast German 
territories, and for a time extended into Italy. 

2 A part of the serious historian's task is to get rid of " epochs " and " re- 
naissances " — Carolingian, Twelfth Century, or Italian. For such there should 
be substituted a conception of historical continuity, with result properly arising 
from conditions. Of course, one must have convenient terms, like " periods," etc., 
and they are legitimate ; for the Carolingian period did differ in degree from the 
Merovingian, and the twelfth century from the eleventh. But it would be well to 
eliminate " renaiss'ance." It seems to have been applied to the culture of the 
quattrocento, etc., in Italy sixty or seventy years ago (1845 is the earliest instance 
in Murray's Dictionary of this use of the word), and carries more false notions than 
can be contradicted in a summer's day. 


or recognized. The missi had jurisdiction over ecclesiastical 
as well as lay officials ; and many of them were entrusted 
with special powers and duties in the particular instance. 
,fi Thus Charlemagne developed the functions of these 
ancient officers. Likewise his Court and royal council, the 
synods and assemblies of his reign, the military service, 
modes of holding land, methods of collecting revenue, were 
not greatly changed from Merovingian prototypes. Yet the 
old institutions had been renewed and bettered. A vast 
misjoined and unrelated realm was galvanized into temporary 
unity. And, most impressive and portentous thing of all, 
an Empire — the Holy Roman Empire — was resurrected for 
a time in fact and verity : the same was destined to endure 
in endeavour and contemplation. 

So there was no break politically or socially between the 
Carolingian Empire and its antecedents, which had made it 
possible. Likewise there was no discontinuity spiritually 
and intellectually between the earlier time and that epoch 
which begins with Charlemagne's first endeavours to restore 
knowledge, and extends through the ninth and, if one will, 
even the tenth century. 1 Western Europe (except Scan- 
dinavia) had become nominally Christian, and had been 
made acquainted with Latin education to the extent indicated 
in the preceding chapter, the purpose of which was to tell 
how Christianity and the antique culture were brought to 
the northern peoples. The present chapter, on the other 
hand, seeks to describe how the eighth and ninth centuries 
proceeded to learn and consider and react upon this newly 
introduced Christianity and antique culture, out of which 
the spiritual destinies of the Middle Ages were to be forged. 
The task of Carolingian scholars was to learn what had been 
brought to them. They scarcely excelled even the later 
intermediaries through whom this knowledge had been 

1 The architecture, sculpture, and painting of the Carolingian time continued 
the Christian antique or Byzantine styles. Church interiors were commonly 
painted, a custom coming from early Christian mosaic and fresco decoration. 
Charlemagne's Capitularies provided for the renovation of the churches, including 
their decorations. No large sculpture has survived ; but we see that there was 
little artistic originality either in the illumination of manuscripts or in ivory 
carving. The royal chapel at Aix was built on the model of St. Vitale at Ravenna, 
and its columns appear to have been taken from existing structures and brought 
to Aix. 


transmitted. One need not look among them for better 
scholarship than was possessed by Bede, who died in 735, 
the birth year of Alcuin who drew so much from him, and 
was to be the chief luminary of the Palace School of Charle- 
magne. Charlemagne's exertions and example caused a 
revival of sacred and profane studies through the region of 
the present France and Rhenish Germany. His primary 
motive was the purification and extension of Catholic 
Christianity. 1 For this, Charles Martel and Pippin (with his 
brother Carloman) had done much, as their support of 
Boniface testifies. But Charlemagne's efforts went beyond 
those of his predecessors. More clearly than they he 
understood the need of education, and he was himself 
intensely interested in knowledge. His open-minded love 
of knowledge was shown in all that the Palace School 
became under his inspiration and Alcuin's directorship. 
There young princes and nobles received a primary education 
in Latin letters, and learned to breathe an atmosphere of 
intellectual curiosity. Stimulating questions were asked, 
sometimes by Charles himself, and answers were given 
by the scholars whom he had drawn together. 

Charlemagne was primarily a ruler in the largest sense, 
conqueror, statesman, law-giver, one who realized the needs 
of the time, and met or forestalled them. His monarchy 
with its powers inherited, as well as radiating from his own 
personality, provided an imperial government for western 
Europe. The chief activities of this ruler and his epoch 
were practical, to wit, political and military. In laws, in 
institutions, and in deeds, he and his Empire represent 
creativeness and progress ; although, to be sure, that con- 
glomerate empire of his had itself to fall in pieces before 
there could take place a more lasting and national evolution 
of States. And, of course, Carolingian political creativeness 

1 Charlemagne's famous open letters of general admonition, de litteris colendis 
and de emendatione librorum, and his admonitio generalis for the instruction of 
his legates (missi), show that the fundamental purpose of his exhortations was to 
advance the true understanding of Scripture : " ut facilius et rectius divinarum 
scripturarum mysteria valeatis penetrare." To this end he seeks to improve the 
Latin education of monks and clergy ; and to this end he would have the texts of 
Scripture emended and a proper liturgy provided ; and, as touching the last, he 
refers to the efforts of his father Pippin before him. The best edition of these 
documents is by Boretius in the Monumcnta Germaniae historica. 


included the conservation of existing social, political, and, 
above all, ecclesiastical, institutions. In fine, this period 
was creative and progressive in its practical energies. The 
factors were the pressing needs and palpable opportunities, 
which were met or availed of. And to the same effective 
treatment of problems ecclesiastical and doctrinal was due 
the modicum of originality in the Carolingian literature. 
Aside from this, the period's intellectual accomplishment, in 
religious as well as secular studies, shows a diligent learning 
and imitation of pagan letters, and a rehandling and arrange- 
ment of the work of the Church Fathers and their immediate 
successors. Its efforts were spent in rearranging the 
heritage of Christian teaching, or in endeavours to acquire 
the transmitted antique culture and imitate the antique in 
phrase and metre. The combined task, or occupation, 
absorbed the minds of scholars. The whole period was at 
school, where it needed to be : at school to the Church 
Fathers, at school to the transmitters of antique culture. 
Its task was one of adjustment of its materials to itself, 
and of itself to its materials. 1 

The restoration of studies marking the life-time of 
Charlemagne and the decades following his death did 
not extend to Italy. Rather that land where letters 
might decay but never ceased, furnished a number 
of the scholars who contributed to the northern revival. 
Nor did it extend to Anglo-Saxon England, where Bede 
had taught and whence Alcuin had come. The revival 
radiated, one may say, from the Palace School attached 
to the Court, which had its least intermittent domicile at 
Aix-la-Chapelle. It extended to the chief monastic centres 
of Gaul and Germany, and to cathedral schools where such 
existed. From many lands scholars were drawn by that 
great hand so generous in giving, so mighty to protect. 
Some came on invitation more or less compelling, and many 
of their own free will. The first and most famous of them 
all was the Anglo-Saxon, Alcuin of York. 2 Charles first 
saw him at Parma in the year 781, and ever after kept 
him in his service as his most trusted teacher and director 

1 For an interesting estimate of the time, see G. Monod, Etudes critiques 
sur les sources de Vhistoire carolingienne. Bib. de VEcole des Hautes Etudes (1898). 

2 On Alcuin, see Manitius, Ges. der lat. Lit. des Mittelalters, i. pp. 273-288. 


of studies. Love of home drew Alcuin back, once at least, 
to England. In 796 Charles permitted him to leave the 
Court, and entrusted him with the re-establishment of the 
Abbey of St. Martin at Tours and its schools. There he 
lived and laboured till his death in 804. 

Another scholar was Peter of Pisa, a grammarian, who 
seems to have shared with Alcuin the honourable task of 
instructing the king. Of greater note was Paulus Diaconus, 
who, like Alcuin himself, was to sigh for the pious or 
scholarly quiet which the seething, half-barbarous, and 
loose-mannered Court did not afford. Paulus at last gained 
Charles's consent to retire to Monte Cassino. He was of the 
Lombard race, like another favourite of Charles, Paulinus of 
Aquileia. From Spain, apparently, came Theodulphus, by 
descent a Goth, and reputed the most elegant Latin versifier 
of his time. Charles made him Bishop of Orleans. A little 
later, Einhart the Frank appears, who was to be the 
emperor's secretary and biographer. Likewise came certain 
sons of Erin, among them such a problematic poet as he 
who styled himself " Hibernicus Exul " — not the first or last 
of his line ! 

These belonged to the generation about the emperor. 
Belonging to the next generation, and for the most part 
pupils of the older men, were Abbot Smaragdus, grammarian 
and didactic writer ; the German, Rabanus Maurus, Abbot 
of Fulda and, against his will, Archbishop of Mainz, an 
encyclopaedic excerpter and educator, primus praeceptor 
Germaniae ; his pupil was Walafrid Strabo, the cleverest 
putter-together of the excerpt commentary, and a pleasing 
poet. In Lorraine at the same time flourished the Irishman, 
Sedulius Scotus, and in the West that ardent classical 
scholar, Servatus Lupus, Abbot of Ferrieres, and Agobard, 
Bishop of Lyons, a man practical and hard-headed, with 
whom one may couple Claudius, Bishop of Turin, the 
opponent of relic-worship. One might also mention those 
theological controversialists, Radbertus Paschasius and 
Ratramnus, Hincmar, the great Archbishop of Rheims, and 
Gottschalk, the unhappy monk, ever recalcitrant ; at the 
end John Scotus Eriugena should stand, the somewhat too 
intellectual Neo-Platonic Irishman, translator of Pseudo- 


Dionysius, and announcer of various rationalizing proposi- 
tions for which men were to look on him askance. 

There will be occasion to speak more particularly of a 
number of these men. They were all scholars, and interested 
in the maintenance of elementary Latin education as well as 
in theology. They wished to write good Latin, and some- 
times tried for a classical standard, as Einhart did in his 
Vita Caroli. Few of them refrained from verse, for they 
were addicted to metrical compositions made of borrowed 
classic phrase and often of reflected classic sentiment, some- 
times prettily composed, but usually insipid, and in the 
mass, which was great, exceptionally uninspired. Such 
metrical effort, quite as much as Einhart's consciously 
classicizing Latin prose, represents a survival of the antique 
excited to recrudescence in forms which, if they were not 
classical, at least had not become anything else. Stylisti- 
cally and perhaps temperamentally, it represented the ending 
of what had nearly passed away, rather than the beginning 
of the more organic development which was to come. 1 

Among these men, Alcuin and Rabanus broadly represent 
at once the intellectual interests of the period and the 
first stage in the process of the mediaeval appropriation of 
the patristic and antique material. The affectionate and 
sympathetic personality of the former 2 appears throughout 
his voluminous correspondence with Charles and others, 
which shows, among other matters, the interest of the 
time in elementary points of Latinity, and the alertness 
of the mind of the great king, who put so many questions 
to his genial instructor upon grammar, astronomy, and such 
like knowledge. An examination of the works of Alcuin 
will indicate the range and character of the educational and 
more usual intellectual interests of the epoch. In fact, they 
are outlined in a simple fashion suited to youthful minds in 
his treatise upon Grammar. 3 Its opening colloquy presents 

1 As to the stylistic qualities of Carolingian prose and metre see post, Chapters 

2 Alcuin's works are printed conveniently in tomes ioo and 101 of Migne's 
Patrologia Latina. Extracts are given, post, Chapter XXXII. , to indicate the 
place of Carolingian prose in the development of mediaeval Latin styles. 

3 Printed in Migne ioi, col. 849-902. Alcuin adopted for his Grammar the 
dialogue form frequent in Anglo-Saxon literature ; and from his time the question 


a sort of programme and justification of elementary secular 

" We have heard you saying/' begins Discipulus, " that 
philosophy is the teacher (magistra) of all virtues, and that 
she alone of secular riches has never left the possessor 
miserable. Lend a hand, good Master," — and the pupil 
becomes self-deprecatory. " Flint has fire within, which 
comes out only when struck ; so the light of knowledge 
exists by nature in human minds, but a teacher is needed 
to knock it out." 

" It is easy," responds the Master, "to show you wisdom's 
path, if only you will pursue it for the sake of God, for the 
sake of the soul's purity and to learn the truth, and also 
for its own sake, and not for human praise and honour." 

We confess, answers little Discipulus, that we love 
happiness, but know not whether it can exist in this world. 
And the dialogue rambles on in discursive comment upon 
the superiority of the lasting over the transitory, with some 
feeble echoing of notes from Boethius's De consolatione. 
There is talk to show that man, a rational animal, the 
image of his Creator, and immortal in his better part, should 
seek what is truly of himself, and not what is alien, the 
abiding and not the fugitive. In fine, one should adorn the 
soul, which is eternal, with wisdom, the soul's true lasting 
dignity. There is some coy demurring over the steepness 
of the way ; but the pupil is ardent, and the Master confident 
that with the aid of Divine Grace they will ascend the seven 
grades of philosophy, by which philosophers have gained 
honour brighter than that of kings, and the holy doctors 
and defenders of our Catholic Faith have triumphed over 
all heresiarchs. " Through these paths, dearest son, let 
your youth run its daily course, until its completed years 
and strengthened mind shall attain to the heights of the 
Holy Scriptures upon which you and your like shall become 
armed defenders of the Faith and invincible assertors of its 
truth." This means, of course, that the Liberal Arts are 
the proper preparation for the study of Scripture, that is, 
theology. But Alcuin's discourse seems to tarry with those 

and answer of Discipulus and M agister will not cease their cicada chime in didactic 
Latin writings. 



studies as if detained by some love of them for their own 

The body of this treatise is in form a disputation between 
two youthful pupils, a Frank and a Saxon. A Magister 
makes a third interlocutor, and sets the subject of the 
argument. These personae discuss letters and syllables 
in definitions taken from Donatus, Priscian, or Isidore ; 
and whenever Alcuin permits any one of them to stray from 
the words of those authorities, the language shows at once 
his own confused ideas regarding the parts of speech. He 
uses terms without adequately comprehending them, and 
thus affords one of the myriad examples of how, under 
decadent or barbarized conditions, phrases may outlive an 
intelligent understanding of their meaning. " Grammar," 
says the Magister, when solicited to define it, " is the science 
of letters, and the guardian of correct speech and writing. 
It rests on nature, reason, authority, and custom." ' In 
how many species is it divided ? " "In twenty-six : words, 
letters, syllables, clauses, dictions, speeches, definitions, 
feet, accent, punctuation, signs, spelling, analogies, etymo- 
logies, glosses, differences, barbarism, solecism, faults, 
metaplasm, schemata, tropes, prose, metre, fables and 
histories." x The actual treatise does not cover these 
twenty-six topics, but confines itself to the division of 
grammar commonly called Etymology. 

Though the mental processes of an individual preserve 
a working harmony, some of them appear more rational 
than others. Such disparities may be glaring in men who 
enter upon the learning of a higher civilization without 
proper pilotage. How are they to discriminate between the 
valuable and the foolish ? The common sense, which they 
apply to familiar matters, contrasts with their childlike 
lucubrations upon novel topics of education or philosophy. 
And if that higher culture to which such pupils are intro- 
duced be in part decadent, it will itself contain disparities 
between the stronger thinking held in the surviving writings 
of a prior time and the later degeneracies which are declining 
to the level, it may be, of tfeewe new learners. 

1 Migne ioi, col. 857. See Mullinger, Schools of Charles the Great, p. 76 (an 
excellent book), and West's Alcuin, chap. v. (New York, 1892). 


There would naturally be disparities in the mental 
processes of an Anglo-Saxon like Alcuin introduced to the 
debris of Latin education and the writings of the Fathers ; 
and his state would typify the character of the studies at 
the Palace School of Charlemagne and at monastic schools 
through his northern realm. This newly stimulated scholar- 
ship held the same disparities that appear in the writings 
of Alcuin. He may seem to be adapting his teaching to 
barbaric needs, but it is evident that his matter accords 
with his own intellectual tastes, as, for example, when he 
introduces into his educational writings the habit of riddling 
in metaphors, so dear to the Anglo-Saxon. 1 The sound but 
very elementary portions of his teaching were needed by the 
ignorance of his scholars. For instance, no information 
regarding Latin orthography could come amiss in the eighth 
century. And Alcuin in his treatise on that subject 2 took 
many words commonly misspelled and contrasted them with 
those which sounded like them, but were quite different in 
meaning and derivation. One should not, for example, 
confuse habeo with abeo ; or bibo and vivo. Such warnings 
were valuable. The use of the vulgar Romance-forms of 
Latin spoken through a large part of Charles's dominions 
implied no knowledge of correct Latinity. Even among 
the clergy, there was almost universal ignorance of Latin 
orthography and grammar. 

As a companion to his Grammar and Orthography, Alcuin 
composed a De rhetorica et virtutibus? in the form* of a 
dialogue between Charles and himself. The king desired 
such instruction to equip him for the civil disputes (civiles 
quaestiones) which were brought before him from all parts 
of his realm. And Alcuin proceeded to furnish him with a 
compend of the scientia bene dicendi, which is Rhetoric. 
This crude epitome was based chiefly on Cicero's De inven- 
tione, but indicates a use of other of his oratorical writings, 
and has bits here and there which apparently have filtered 

1 As in his Disputatio Pippini (the son of Charlemagne), Migne 101, col. 975-980, 
which is just a series of didactic riddles : What is a letter ? The guardian of 
history. What is a word ? The betrayer of the mind. What generates language ? 
The tongue. What is the tongue ? The whip of the air — and so forth. 

2 De orthographia, Migne 101, col. 902-919. 

3 Migne 101, col. 919-950. Mullinger, o.c. pp. 83-85. 


through from the Rhetoric of Aristotle. Some illustrations 
are taken from Scripture. The work is most successful in 
showing the difference between Cicero and Alcuin. The 
genius, the spirit, the art of the great orator's treatises are 
lost ; a naked skeleton of statement remains. We have 
words, terms, definitions, even rules ; and Alcuin is not 
conscious that beyond them there is the living spirit of 

A more complete descent from substance to a clatter of 
words and definitions is exhibited by Alcuin's De dialectica. 1 
In logical studies facilis descensus ! Others had illustrated 
this before him. His treatise is again a dialogue, with 
Charlemagne for questioner. Opening with the stock 
definitions and divisions of philosophy, it arrives at logic, 
which is composed (as Isidore and Cassiodorus said) of 
dialectic and rhetoric, " the shut and open fist," a simile 
which had come down from Varro. Says Charles : " What 
are the species of dialectic ? " Answers Alcuin : " Five 
principal ones : Isagogae, categories, forms of syllogisms 
and definitions, topics, periermeniae." What a classifica- 
tion ! Introductions, categories, syllogisms, topics, De 
interpretatione-s ! It is not a classification but in reality 
an enumeration of the treatises which had served as sources 
for those men from whom Alcuin drew ! Evidently this 
excerpter is not really thinking in the terms and categories 
of his subject. His work shows no intelligence beyond 
Isidore's, from whose Etymologies it is largely taken. And 
the genius of our author for metaphysics may be perceived 
from the definition which he offers Charles of substance — 
substantia or usia (i.e. ovala) : it is that which is discerned 
by corporeal sense ; while accidens is that which changes 
frequently and is apprehended by the mind. Substantia 
is the underlying, the subjacens, in which the accidentia are 
said to be. 2 One observes the crassness of these statements 

There are illustrations of the knowledge and methods 
shown in the educational writings of the man who, next to 
Charles himself, was the guiding spirit of the intellectual 
revival. No mention has been made of those of his works 
that were representative of the chief intellectual labour of 

1 Migne 101, col. 951-976. 2 Migne 101, col. 956. 


the period — that of exploiting the Patristic material. Here 
Alcuin contributed a compend of Augustine's doctrines on 
the Trinity, 1 and a book on the Vices and Virtues, drawn 
chiefly fr° m Augustine's sermons. 2 Like most of his 
learned contemporaries, he also compiled Commentaries 
upon Scripture, the method of which is prettily told in a 
prefatory epistle placed by him before his Commentary on 
the Gospel of John, and addressed to two pious women : 

" Devoutly searching the pantries of the holy Fathers, I let you 
taste whatever I have been able to find in them. Nor did I deem 
it fitting to cull the blossoms from any meadow of my own, but 
with humble heart and head bowed low, to search through the 
flowering fields of many Fathers, and thus safely satisfy your 
pious pleasure. First of all I seek the suffrage of Saint Augustine, 
who laboured with such zeal upon this Gospel ; then I draw 
something from the tracts of the most holy doctor Saint Ambrose ; 
nor have I neglected the homilies of Father Gregory the pope, 
or those of the blessed Bede, nor, in fact, the works of others of 
the holy Fathers. I have cited their interpretations as I found 
them, preferring to use their meanings and their words, than trust 
to my own presumption." 3 

In the next generation, a ,most industrious compiler of 
such Commentaries was Alcuin's pupil, Rabanus Maurus. 4 

1 Migne 101, col. 11-56. 2 Migne 101, col. 613-638. 

3 Migne 100, col. 737, 744- 

1 An important person. He was born at Mainz about 776. Placed as a child 
in the convent of Fulda, his talents and learning caused him to be sent at the 
age of twenty-one to Alcuin at Tours for further instruction. After Alcuin's 
death in 804, Rabanus returned to Fulda and was made Principal of the monastery 
school. In 822 he was elected Abbot. His labours gained for him the title of 
Primus praeceptor Germaniae. Resigning in 842, he withdrew to devote himself 
to literary labours ; but he was soon drawn from his retreat and made Archbishop 
of Mainz. He died in 856. While archbishop, and also while abbot, Rabanus 
with spiteful zeal prosecuted that rebellious monk, the high-born Saxon Gottschalk, 
who, among other faults, held too harsh views upon Predestination. His works 
are published in Migne, Pat. Lat. 107-112. 

Rabanus has left huge Commentaries upon the books of the Old and New 
Testaments, in which he and his pupils gathered the opinions of the Fathers. 
He also added such needful comment of his own as his " exiguity " of mind per- 
mitted (Praef. to Com. in Lib. Judicum, Migne 108, col. n 10). His Commentaries 
were superseded by the Glossa ordinaria (Migne 113 and 114) of his own pupil, 
Walafrid Strabo, which was systematically put together from Rabanus and those 
upon whom he drew. It was smoothly done, and the writer knew how to eliminate 
obscurity and prolixity, and in fact make his work such that it naturally became 
the Commentary in widest use for centuries. The dominant interest of these 
commentators is in the allegorical significance of Scripture, as we shall see (Chapter 
XXVIII.). On Rabanus and Walafrid, see Ebert, Allge. Gesch. der Lit. des 
Mittelalters, ii. r 20- 166. 


More deeply learned than his master, his conception of 
the purposes of study has not changed essentially. Like 
Alcuin, he sets forth a proper intellectual programme for 
the instruction of the clergy : '* The foundation, the state, 
and the perfection, of wisdom is knowledge of the Holy 
Scriptures." The Seven Arts are the ancillary disciplinae ; 
the first three constitute that grammatical, rhetorical, and 
logical training which is needed for an understanding of 
the holy texts and their interpretation. Likewise arithmetic 
and the rest of the quadrivium have place in the cleric's 
education. A knowledge of pagan philosophy need not be 
avoided : " The philosophers, especially the Platonists, if 
perchance they have spoken truths accordant with our faith, 
are not to be shunned, but their truths appropriated, as from 
unjust possessors." 1 And Rabanus continues with the 
never-failing metaphor of Moses despoiling the Egyptians. 

Raban, however, had somewhat larger thoughts of 
education than his master. For example, he takes a broader 
view of grammar, which he regards as the scientia of inter- 
preting the poets and historians, and the ratio of correct 
speech and writing. 2 Likewise he treats Dialectica more 
seriously. With him it is the " disciplina of rational 
investigation, of defining and discussing, and distinguishing 
the true from the false. It is therefore the disciplina 
disciplinarum. It teaches how to teach and how to learn ; 
in this same study, reason itself demonstrates what it is 
and what it wills. This art alone knows how to know, and is 
willing and able to make knowers. Reasoning in it, we 
learn what we are, and whence, and also to know Creator 
and creature ; through it we trace truth and detect falsity, 
we argue and discover what is consequent and what incon- 
sequent, what is contrary to the nature of things, what is 
true, what is probable, and what is intrinsically false in 
disputations. Wherefore the clergy ought to know this 
noble art, and have its laws in constant meditation, so that 
subtly they may discern the wiles of heretics, and confute 
their poisoned sayings with the conclusions of the syllogism." 3 

This somewhat extravagant but not novel view of logic's 

1 De cleric, inst. iii. 26 (Migne 107, col. 404). 
2 Ibid. iii. 18. 3 Ibid. iii. 20 (Migne 107, col. 397). 


function was prophetic of the coming scholastic reliance 
upon it as the means and instrument of truth. Rabanus 
had no hesitancy in commending this edged tool to his 
pupils. But the operations of his mind were predominantly 
Carolingian, which is to say that ninety-nine per cent of the 
contents of his opera consist of material extracted from 
prior writers. His Commentaries upon Scripture outbulk 
all his other works taken together, and are compiled in 
this manner. So is his encyclopaedic compilation, De 
universo libri XXII., 1 two books more than in Isidore's 
Etymologies, from which he chiefly drew ; but he changed 
the arrangement, and devoted a larger part of his parchment 
to religious topics ; and he added further matter gleaned 
from the Church Fathers, from whom he had drawn his 
Commentaries. This further matter consisted of the 
mystical interpretations of things, which he subjoined to 
their " natural " explanations. He says, in his Praefatio, 
addressed to King Louis : 

" Much is set forth in this work concerning the natures of things 
and the meanings of words, and also as to the mystical significa- 
tion of things. Accordingly I have arranged my matter so that 
the reader may find the historical and mystical explanations of 
each thing set together — continuatim positam ; and may be able 
to satisfy his desire to know both significations." 

These allegorical elaborations accorded with the habits of 
this compiler of allegorical comment upon Scripture. 2 

Rabanus was a full Teutonic personality, a massive 
scholar for his time, untiring in labour and intrinsically 
honest. Except when involved in the foolishness of the 
mystic qualities of numbers, or following the will-o'-wisps 
of allegory, he evinces much sound wisdom. He abhors 
the pretence of teaching what one has not first diligently 
learned ; and his good sense is shown in his admonition to 
teachers to use words which their pupils or audience will 
understand. His views upon profane knowledge were 
liberal : one should use the treasured experience and 
accumulated wisdom of the ancients, for that is still the 

1 Migne in, col. 9-614. 

2 Raban's excruciating De laudibtis sanctae cruets shows what he could do as 
a virtuoso in allegorical mystification (Migne 107, col. 137-294). 


mainstay of human society ; but one should shun their vain 
as well as pernicious idolatries and superstitions. 1 Let us 
by all means preserve their sound educational learning and 
the elements of their philosophy which accord with the 
verities of Christian doctrine. Raban also realized the 
sublimity of the study of Astronomy, which he deemed " a 
worthy argument for the religious and a torment for the 
curious. If pursued with chaste and sober mind, it floods 
our thoughts with immense love. How admirable to mount 
the heavens in spirit, and with inquiring reason consider 
that whole celestial fabric, and from every side gather in 
the mind's reflective heights what those vast recesses veil." 2 
He then rebukes the folly of those who vainly would draw 
auguries from the stars. 3 

Raban's mental activities were commonly constrained 
by the need felt by him and his pious contemporaries to 
master the works of the Latin Fathers. Perhaps more than 
any other one man (though here his pupil Walafrid Strabo 
made a skilful second) he contributed to what necessarily 
was the first stage in this mediaeval achievement of appro- 
priating patristic Christianity, to wit, the preliminary task 
of rearranging the doctrinal expositions of the Fathers 
conveniently, and for the most part in Commentaries 
following verse and chapter of the canonical books of 
Scripture. But, like many of his contemporaries, Raban, 
when compelled by controversial exigencies, would think 
for himself if the situation could not be met with matter 
taken from a Father. Accordingly, individual and personal 
views are vigorously put in some of his writings, as in his 
Liber de oblatione puerorum* directed against the attempt of 
the interesting Saxon, Gottschalk, to free himself from the 
vows made by those who dedicated him in boyhood as an 
oblatus at the monastery of Fulda, of which Raban was 
abbot. Raban's tract maintained that the monastic vows 
made upon such dedication of children could not be broken 
by the latter on reaching years of discretion. 

This same Gottschalk was the centre of the storm, 

1 De cleric, inst. iii. 16 (Migne 107, col. 392). 

2 De cleric, inst. iii. 25 (Migne 107, col. 403). 

3 Compare his De magicis artibus, Migne no, col. 1095 sqq. 

4 Migne 107, col. 419 sqq. 


which he indeed blew up, over Predestination ; and again 
Raban was his fierce opponent. This controversy, with that 
relating to the Eucharist, will serve to illustrate the doctrinal 
interests of the time, and also to exemplify the quasi- 
originality of its controversial productions. 

Of course Predestination and the Eucharist had been 
exhaustively discussed by the Latin Fathers. No man of 
the ninth century could really add anything to the arguments 
touching the former set forth in the works of Augustine and 
his Pelagian adversaries. And the substance of the dis- 
cussion as to the eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ had 
permeated countless tomes, both Greek and Latin, from the 
time of Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (d. 202) ; and yet neither 
as to the impossible topic of Predestination, nor as to the 
distinctly Christian mystery of the Eucharist, had the Latin 
Church authoritatively and finally fixed doctrine in dogma 
or put together the arguments. The ninth century with its 
lack of elastic thinking, and its greater need of tangible 
authority, was compelled by its mental limitations to attempt 
in each of these matters to drag a definite conclusion from 
out of its entourage of argument, and strip it of its decently 
veiling obscurities. Thereupon, and with its justifying and 
balanced foundation of reasons and considerations knocked 
from under, the conclusion had to sustain itself in mid air, 
just at the level of the common eye. 

Such, obviously, was the result of the Eucharistic or 
Paschal controversy. The symbol, all indecision brushed 
away, hardened into the tangible miraculous reality. 
Radbertus, Abbot of Corbie, who was so rightly named 
Paschasius, was the chief agent in the process. His method 
of procedure, just as the result which he obtained, was what 
the time required. The method was almost a bit of creation 
in itself : he put the matter in a separate monograph, De 
corpore el sanguine Domini} the first work exclusively 
devoted to the subject. This was needed as a matter of 
arrangement and presentation. Men could not endure to 
look here and thither among many books on many subjects, 
for arguments one way and the other. That was too 
distraught. There was call for a compendium, a manual 

1 Migne 120, col. 1267-1350. 


of the matter ; and in providing it Paschasius was a master 
mechanic for his time. Inevitably the discussion and the 
conclusion took on a new definiteness. It is impossible to 
glean and gather arguments and matter from all sides, and 
bring them together into a single composition, without 
making the thesis more organic, tangible, definite. Thus 
Paschasius presented the scattered, wavering discussion — 
the victorious side of it — as a clear dogma reached at last. 
And whatever qualification of counter-doctrine there was in 
his grouped arguments, there was none in the conclusion ; 
and the definite conclusion was what men wanted. 

And practically for the whole western Church, clergy 
and laity, the conclusion was but one, and accorded with 
what was already the current acceptance of the matter. 
Radbert's arguments embraced the spiritual realism of 
Augustine, according to which the ultra reality of the 
Eucharistic elements consisted in the virtus sacvamenti, that 
is in their miraculous and real, but invisible, transformation 
into the veritable substance of Christ's veritable body. This 
took place through priestly consecration, and existed only 
for believers. For the brute to eat the elements was nothing 
more than to consume other similar natural substances. 
For the misbeliever it was not so simple. He indeed ate 
not Christ's body, but his own judicium, his own deeper 
damnation. Here lay the terror, which made more anxious, 
more poignant, the believer's hope, that he was faithful and 
humbled, and was eating the veritable Christ-body to his 
sure salvation. For the Eucharist could not fail, though 
the partaker might. 

Out of all of this emerged the one clear thing, the point, 
the practical conclusion, which was transubstantiation, 
though the word was not yet made. Here it is in Paschasius ; 
says he : " That body and blood veritably come into exist- 
ence {fiat) by the consecration of the Mystery, no one doubts 
who believes the divine words ; hence Truth says, ' For my 
flesh verily is food, and my blood verily is drink ' (John 
vi. 55). And that it should be clearer to the disciples who 
did not rightly understand of what flesh he spoke, or of 
what blood, he added, to make this plain, ' Whoso eateth 
my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in 


jjim' (ibid. 56). Therefore, if it is veritably food, it is 
veritable flesh ; and if it is veritably drink, it also is veritable 
blood. Otherwise how could he have said, ' The bread 
w hich I will give is my flesh for the life of the world ' (ibid 
52) ? " 

Could anything be more positive and simplified ? At 
grst sight it is a marvel how Paschasius, even though 
treading in the steps of so many who had gone before, 
could give a literal interpretation to words which Christ 
seems to have used as figuratively as when He said, "lam 
the vine, ye are the branches." A marvel indeed, when 
W e think that Paschasius and all of his generation, as well 
as those who went before, had abandoned themselves to the 
most wonderful and far-fetched allegorical interpretations of 
every historical and literal statement in the Scriptures. And 
this same Paschasius, and all the rest too, do not hesitate to 
interpret and explain by allegory the significance of every 
accompanying act and circumstance of the mass. This 
might seem the climax of the marvel, but it is a step toward 
explaining it. For the literal interpretation of the phrases 
which Paschasius quotes was followed for the sake of the 
more' absolute miracle, the deeper mystery, the fuller 
florescence of encompassing allegorical meaning. Only 
thus could be brought about the transformation of the 
palpable symbol into the miraculous reality'; and only then 
could that bread and wine be what Cyril of Alexandria and 
others, five hundred years before Paschasius, had called it : 
" the drug of immortality." Only through the miraculous 
and real identity of the elements of the Eucharist with the 
body and blood of Christ could they save the souls of the 

In partial disagreement with these hard and fast con- 
clusions, Ratramnus, also of Corbie, 1 and others might still 
try to veil the matter, with utterances capable of more 
equivocal meaning ; might try to make it all more dim, and 
therefore more possibly reasonable. That was not what the 
Carolingian time, or the centuries to come, wanted; but 
rather the definite tangible statement, which they could 
grasp as readily as they could see and touch the elements 

1 Ratramnus, De corpore, etc. (Migne 121, col. 125-170). 


before their eyes. In disenveloping the question and 
conclusion from every wavering consideration and veiling 
ambiguity, the Carolingian period was creative in this 
Paschal controversy. New propositions were not devised • 
but the old, such of them as fitted, were put together and 
given the unity and force of a projectile. 

It was the same and yet different with the Predestination 
strife. Gottschalk, who raised the storm, stated doctrines of 
Augustine. But he set them out naked and alone, with 
nothing else as counterpoise, as Augustine had not done 
Thus to draw a single doctrine out from the totality of a 
man's work and the demonstrative suggestiveness of all the 
rest of his teachings, whether that man be Paul or Augustine 
is to present it so as to make it something else. For thereby 
it is left naked and alone, and unadjusted with the connected 
and mitigating considerations yielded by the rest of the 
man's opinions. Such a procedure is a garbling, at least 
in spirit. It is almost like quoting the first half of a sentence 
and leaving off everything following the author's " but " 
in the middle of it. 

At all events the hard and fast, complete and twin 
(gemina) divine predestination, unto hell as well as heaven, 
was too unmitigated for the Carolingian Church. This 
doctrine, and his own intractable temper, immured the 
unhappy announcer of it in a monastic dungeon till he died. 
It was monstrous, as monstrous as transubstantiation, for 
example ! But transubstantiation saved ; and while the 
Church could stand the doctrine of the election of the 
Elect to salvation, it revolted from the counter-inference, of 
the election of the damned to hell, which contradicted too 
drastically the sweet and lovely teaching that Christ died 
for all. The theologians of one and more generations were 
drawn into the strife, which was to have a less definitive 
result than the Paschal controversy. Even to-day the 
adjustment of human free - will with omnipotent fore- 
knowledge has not been made quite clear. 1 

There was one man who was drawn into the Predestina- 
tion strife, although for him it lacked cardinal import. For 

1 On the Carolingian controversies upon Predestination and the Eucharist, 
see Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, vol. iii. chap. vi. 


the Neo-Platonic principles of John Scotus Eriugena scarcely 
oermitted him to see in evil more than non-existence, and 
led him to trace all phases of reality downward from the 
orimal Source. His intellectual attitude, interests, and 
faculties were exceptional, and yet nevertheless partook of 
the characteristics of his time, out of which not even an 
Eriugena could lift himself. He was an Irishman, who 
came to the Court of Charles the Bald on invitation, and for 
many years, until his orthodoxy became too suspect, was 
the head of the Palace School. He may have died about 
the year 877. 

Eriugena was in the first place a man of learning, widely 
read in the works of the Greek Fathers. From the Celestial 
Hierarchy of Pseudo-Dionysius and other sources, he had 
absorbed huge draughts of Neo-Platonism. One must 
not think of him always as an original thinker. A large 
part of his literary labours correspond with those of con- 
temporaries. He was a translator of the works of Pseudo- 
Dionysius, for he knew Greek. Then he composed or 
compiled Commentaries upon those writings. He cared 
supremely for the fruits of those faculties with which he 
was pre-eminently endowed. He, the man of acquisitive 
powers, loved learning ; and he, the man with a faculty of 
constructive reason, loved rational truth and the labour of 
its systematic and syllogistic presentation. He ascribed 
primal validity to what was true by force of logic, and in 
his soul set reason above authority. Certain of his con- 
temporaries, with a discernment springing from repugnance, 
perceived his self-reliant intellectual mood. The same 
ground underlay their detestation, which centuries after 
underlay St. Bernard's for Abaelard. That Abaelard 
should deem himself to be something ! here was the root 
of the saint's abhorrence. And, similarly, good Deacon 
Florus of Lyons wrote a vituperative polemic quite as much 
against the man Eriugena as against his detestable views 
of Predestination. Eriugena, forsooth, would be disputing 
with human argument, which he draws from philosophy, 
and for which he would be accountable to none. He 
proffers no authority from the Fathers, "as if daring to 
define with his own presumption what should be held and 


followed." x Such was not the way that Carolingian 
Churchmen liked to argue, but rather with attested sentences 
from Augustine or Gregory. Manifestly Eriugena was not 
one of them. 

Had his works been earlier understood, they would have 
been earlier condemned. But people did not realize what 
sort of Neo-Platonic, pantheistic and emanational, principles 
this Irishman from over the sea was setting forth. St. Denis 
the great saint who was becoming St. Denis of France, had 
been authoritatively (and most preposterously) identified 
with Dionysius the Areopagite who heard Paul preach, and, 
according to the growing legend, won a martyr's crown not 
far from Paris. This was set forth in his Life by Abbot 
Hilduin ; 2 this was confirmed by Hincmar, the great Arch- 
bishop of Rheims, who said, closing his discussion of the 
matter : " Veritas saepius agitata magis splendescit in 
lucem ! " 3 Eriugena seemed to be a translator of his holy 
writings, and might be regarded as a setter forth of his 
exceptionally resplendent truths. He could use the Fathers' 
language too. So in his book on Predestination he quotes 
Augustine as saying, Philosophy, which is the study of 
wisdom, is not other than religion. 4 But he was not going to 
keep meaning what Augustine meant. He slowly extends 
his talons in the following sentences which do not stand at 
the beginning of his great work De divisione naturae. 

Says the Magister, for the work is in dialogue form : 
" You are aware, I suppose, that what is prior by nature is 
of greater dignity than what is prior in time." 

Answers Discipulus : " This is known to almost all." 

Continues Magister : " We learn that reason is prior by 
nature, but authority prior in time. For although nature 
was created at the same moment with time, authority did 
not begin with the beginning of time and nature. But 
reason sprang with nature and time from the beginning of 

Discipulus clenches the matter : " Reason itself teaches 

1 Migne 119, col. 102. Floras called his tract " Libellus Flori adversus cuiusdam 
vanissimi hominis, qui cognominatur Joannes, ineptias et errores de praedestina- 
tione," etc. Floras was a contemporary of Eriugena. 

2 Migne 106. 

3 Hincmar, Ep. 23 (Migne 126, col. 153). 4 Migne 122, col. 357- 


this. Authority sometimes proceeds from reason ; but 
reason never from authority. For all authority which is not 
approved by true reason seems weak. But true reason, since 
it is stablished in its own strength, needs to be strengthened 
by the assent of no authority." 1 

No doubt of the talons here ! Reason superior to 
authority — is it not also prior to faith ? Eriugena does not 
press that reversal of the Christian position. But his De 
divisione naturae was a reasoned construction, although 
of course the materials were not his own. It was no loosely 
compiled encyclopaedia, such as Isidore or Bede or Rabanus 
would have presented under such a title. It did not describe 
every object in nature known to the writer ; but it discussed 
Nature metaphysically, and presented its lengthy exposi- 
tion as a long argument in linked syllogistic form. Yet 
it respected its borrowed materials, and preserved their 
characteristics — with the exception of Scripture, which 
Eriugena recognized as supreme authority ! That he 
interpreted figuratively of course ; so had every one else 
done. But he differed from other commentators and from 
the Church Fathers, in degree if not in kind. For his inter- 
pretation was a systematic moulding of Scriptural phrase to 
suit his system. He transformed the meaning with as clear 
a purpose as once Philo of Alexandria had done. The pre- 
Christian Jew changed the Pentateuch — holding fast, of 
course, to its authority ! — into a Platonic philosophy ; and 
so, likewise by figurative interpretations, Eriugena turned 
Scripture into a semi-Christianized Neo-Platonic scheme. 2 
The logical nature of the man was strong within him, so 
strong, indeed, that in its working it could not but present 
all topics as component parts of a syllogistic and system- 
atized philosophy. 3 If he borrowed his materials, he also 
made them his own with power. He appears as the one 

1 De div. nat. i. 69 (Migne 122, col. 513). 

2 One may say that the work of Eriugena in presenting Christianity trans- 
formed in substance as well as form, stood to the work of such a one as Thomas 
Aquinas as the work of the Gnostics in the second century had stood toward the 
dogmatic formulation of Christianity by the Fathers of the Church. With the 
Church Fathers as with Thomas, there was earnest endeavour to preserve the 
substance of Christianity, though presenting it in a changed form. This cannot 
be said of either the Gnostics or Eriugena. 

3 See Prantl, Ges. der Logik, ii. 20-36. 


man of his time that really could build with the material 
received from the past. 

Beyond the range of these acute theological polemics 
which we have been considering, the pressing exigencies of 
political or ecclesiastical controversy might cause a capable 
man to think for himself even in the ninth century. Such 
a man was Claudius, Bishop of Turin, the foe of image and 
relic worship, and of other superstitions too crass for one 
who was a follower of Augustine. 1 And another such a 
one even more palpably was Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons 
(d. 840), a brave and energetic man, clear-seeing and en- 
lightened, and incessantly occupied with questions of living 
interest, to which his nature responded more quickly than 
to theologic lore. Absorbed in the affairs of his diocese, of 
the Church at large, and of the Empire, he expresses views 
which he has made his own. Practical issues, operating 
upon his mind, evoked a personal originality of treatment. 
His writings are clear illustrations of the originality which 
actual issues aroused in the Carolingian epoch. They were 
directed against common superstitions and degraded religious 
opinion, or against the Jews whose aggressive prosperity in 
the south of France disturbed him ; or they were political. 
In fine, they were the fruit of the living issue. For example, 
his so -often -cited pamphlet, " Against the silly opinion of 
the crowd as to hail and thunder," 2 was doubtless called 
forth by the intolerable conditions stated in the first 
sentence : 

" In these parts almost all men, noble and common, city folk 
and country folk, old and young, think that hail storms and 
thunder can be brought about at the pleasure of men. People 
say when they hear thunder and see lightning ' Aura levatitia est.' 
When asked what aura levatitia may be, some are ashamed or 
conscience-stricken, while others, with the boldness of ignorance, 
assert that the air is raised (levata) by the incantations of men 
called Tempestarii, and so is called ' raised air.' " 

Agobard does not marshal physical explanations against 
this folly, but texts of Scripture showing that God alone can 
raise and lay the storms. Perhaps he thought such texts 

1 Claudius died about 830. His works are in tome 104 of Migne. 
2 Migne 104, col. 147-158. 


,, ^ es t arguments for those who needed any. The manner 
f the writing is reasonable, and the reader perceives that 

f v, e c lear-headed archbishop, apart from his Scriptural 
reuments, deemed these notions ridiculous, as well as 

harmful- 1 

In like spirit Agobard argued against trials by combat 

n d ordeal. Undoubtedly, God might thus announce His 

riehteous judgment, but one should not expect to elicit it in 

modes so opposed to justice and Scripture ; again, he cites 

many texts while also considering the matter rationally. 2 

On the other hand, his book against image-worship is made 

u p of extracts from Augustine and other Church authorities. 

There was no call for originality here, when the subject 

seemed to have been so exhaustively and authoritatively 

treated. 3 

One cannot follow Agobard so comfortably in his ran- 
corous tracts against the Jews. Doubtless this subject 
also presented itself to him as an exigency requiring hand- 
ling, and he was just in his contention that heathen slaves 
belonging to Jews might be converted and baptized, and 
then should not be given back to their former masters, but 
a money equivalent be made instead. The question was 
important from its frequency. Yet one would be loath to 
approve his arguments, unoriginal as they are. He gives 
currency to the common slanders against the Jews, and then 
at great length cites passages from the Church Fathers, to 
show in what detestation they held that people. Then he 
sets forth the abominable opinions of the hated race, and 
ransacks Scripture to prove that the Jews are therein 
authoritatively and incontestably condemned. 4 

1 Compare Agobard's Ep. ad Bartholomaeum (Migne 104, col. 179). 

2 Liber contra judicium Dei (Migne 104, col. 250-268). Here the powerful 
Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, is emphatically on the opposite side, and argues 
lengthily in support of the judicium aquae frigidae, in Epist. 26, Migne 126, col. r6i. 
Hincmar (cir. 806-882) was a man of imposing eminence. He was a great ecclesi- 
astical statesman. The compass and character of his writings is what might be 
expected from such an archiepiscopal man of affairs. They include edifying 
tracts for the use of the king, an authoritative Life of St. Remi, and writings 
theological, political, and controversial. As the writer was not a profound 
thinker, his works have mainly that originality which was impressed upon them 
by the nature of whatever exigency called them forth. They are contained in 
Migne 125, 126. 

3 Liber de imaginibus sanctorum (Migne 104, col. 199-226). 

4 These writings are also in vol. 104 of Migne. 


The years of Agobard's maturity belong to the troubled 
time which came with the accession of the incompetent 
Louis, in 814, to the throne of his father Charlemagne. j n 
the contentions and wars that followed, Agobard proved 
himself an apt political partisan and writer. His political 
tracts, notwithstanding their constant citation of Scripture 
are his own, and evince an originality evoked by the situation 
which they were written to influence. 

Something of the originality which the pressing political 
exigency imparted to these tracts of Agobard might be 
transmitted to such history as was occupied with con- 
temporary events. As long as the historian was a mere 
excerpting chronicler extracting his dry summaries from the 
writings of former men, his work would not rouse him to 
independence of conception or presentation. That would 
have come with criticism upon the old authorities. But 
criticism had scarcely begun to murmur among the Caro- 
lingians, too absorbed with the task of grasping their inherited 
material to weigh it, and too overawed by the authority of 
the past to question the truth of its transmitted statements. 
Excerpts, however, could not be made to tell the stirring 
events of the period in which the Carolingian historian lived. 
He would have to set forth his own perception and under- 
standing of them, and in manner and language which to a 
less or greater extent were his own : to a less extent with 
those feebly beginning Annals, or Year-books, which set 
down the occurrences of cloister life or the larger happenings 
of which the report penetrated from the outer world ; 1 to a 
greater extent, however, with a more veritable history of 
some topic of living and coherent interest. In the latter 
case the writer must present his conception of events, and 
therewith something of himself. 2 

1 See Wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, i. 130-142 (5th ed.). 
Writings known as Annates drew their origin from the notes made by monks 
upon the margin of their calendars. These notes were put together the following 
year, and subsequently might be revised, perhaps by some person of larger view 
and literary skill. Thus the Annals found in the cloister of Lorsch are supposed 
to have been rewritten in part by Einhart. 

2 There were two great earlier examples of such histories : one was the Historia 
Francorum of Gregory of Tours, the author of which was of distinguished Roman 
descent, born in 540 and dying in 594 ; the other was Bede's Church History of the 
English People, which was completed shortly before its author's death in 735- 


An example ofithis|necessitated originality in the writing 
of contemporary history is the work of Count Nithard. 
He was the son of Charlemagne's daughter Bertha and of 
Angilbert, the emperor's counsellor and lifelong friend. 
His parents were not man and wife, because Charles would 
not let his daughters marry, from reasons of policy ; but 
the relationship between them was open, and apparently 
approved by the lady's sire.. Angilbert studied in the 
Palace School with Charlemagne, and became himself a 
writer of Latin verse. He was often his sovereign's am- 
bassador, and continued active in affairs until his closing 
years, when he became the lay-abbot of a rich monastery in 
Picardy, and received his emperor and virtual father-in-law 
as his guest. He died the same year with Charles. 

Like his father, Nithard was educated at the Palace 
School, perhaps with his cousin who was to become Charles 
the Bald. His loyalty continued staunch to that king, 
whose tried confidant he became. He was a diplomatist 
and a military leader in the wars following the death of 
Louis the Pious ; and he felt impelled to present from his 
side the story of the strife among the sons of Louis, in 
" four books of histories " as they grew to be. 1 Involved 
with his king in that same hurricane (eodem turbine) he 
describes those stormy times which they were fighting out 
together even while he was writing. This man of action 
could not but present himself, his views, his temperament, 
in narrating the events he moved in. Throughout, one 
perceives the pen of the participant, in this case an honest 
partisan of his king, and the enemy of those whose conduct 
had given the divided realm over to rapine. So the vigorous 
narrative of this noble Frank partakes of the originality 
which inheres in the writings of men of action when their 
literary faculty is sufficient to enable them to put themselves 
into their compositions. 

Engaged, as we have been, with the intellectual or 

In individuality and picturesqueness of narrative, these two works surpass all the 
historical writings of the Carolingian time. 

1 In Mori. Germ. Hist. Scrip, ii. ; also Migne, vol. 116, col. 45-76 ; trans, in 
German in Geschichtsschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit (Leipzig). See also Wattenbach, 
Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, i., and Ebert, Ges. der Lit. ii. 370 sqq. 


scholarly interests of the Carolingian period, we should not 
forget how slender in numbers were the men who promoted 
them, and how few were the places where they throve. 
There was the central group of open-minded laymen and 
Churchmen about the palace school, or following the Court 
in its journeyings, which were far and swift. Then there 
were monastic or episcopal centres of education as at Tours, 
or Rheims, or Fulda. The scholars carried from the schools 
their precious modicum of knowledge, and passed on 
through life as educated men living in the world, or dwelt 
as learned compilers, reading in the cloister. But scant 
were the rays of their enlightening influence amidst that 
period's vast encompassing ignorance. 

To have classified the Carolingian intellectual interests 
according to topics would have been misleading, since that 
would have introduced a fictitious element of individual 
preference and aptitude, as if the Carolingian scholar of his 
spontaneous volition occupied himself with mathematical 
studies rather than grammar, or with astronomy rather than 
theology. In general, all was a matter of reading and 
learning from such books as Isidore's Origines, which 
handled all topics indiscriminately, or from Bede, or from 
the works of Augustine or Gregory, in which every topic 
did but form part of the encyclopaedic presentation of the 
relationship between the soul and God, and the soul's way 
to salvation. 

What then did these men care for ? Naturally, first of 
all, for the elements of their primary education, their studies 
in the Seven Arts. They did what they might with Grammar 
and Rhetoric, and with Dialectic, which sometimes was 
Rhetoric and formal Logic joined. Logic, for those who 
studied it seriously, was beginning to form an important 
mental discipline. The four branches of the quadrivium 
were pursued more casually. Knowledge of arithmetic, 
geometry, music, and astronomy (one may throw in medicine 
as a fifth) was as it might be in the individual instance — 
always rudimentary, and usually rather less than more. 

All of this, however, and it was not very much, was but 
the preparation, if the man was to be earnest in his pursuit 
of wisdom. Wisdom lay chiefly in Theology, to wit, the 


whole saving contents of Scripture as understood and 
interpreted by Gregory and Augustine. There was little 
mortal knowledge which this range of Scriptural interpreta- 
tion might not include. It compassed such knowledge of 
the physical world as would enable one to understand the 
work of Creation set forth in Genesis ; it embraced all that 
could be known of man, of his physical nature, and assuredly 
of his spiritual part. Here Christian truth might call on 
the better pagan philosophy for illustration and rational 
corroboration, so far as that did corroborate. When it did 
not, it was pernicious falsity. 

So Christian piety viewed the matter. But the pious 
commonly have their temporal fancies, sweet as stolen fruit. 
These Carolingian scholars, the man in orders and the man 
without, studied the Latin poets, historians, and orators. 
Among them were ardent humanists like Servatus Lupus ; * 
who loved the classics for their human message. And in 
their imaginative or poetic moods, as they followed classic 
metre, so they reproduced classic phrase and sentiment in 
their verses. The men who made such — it might be Alcuin, 
or Theodulphus, or Walafrid Strabo — chose what they 
would as the subject of their poems ; but the presentation 
took form and phrase from Virgil and other old poets. The 
antique influence so strong in the Carolingian period, in- 
cluded much more than matters of elegant culture, like 
poetry and art, or even rhetoric and grammar. It held the 
accumulated experience in law and institution, which still 
made part of the basis of civic life. Rabanus Maurus 
recognized it thus broadly. And, thus largely taken, the 
antique survives in the Carolingian time as a co-ordinate 
dominant, with Latin Christianity. Neither, as yet, was 
affected by the solvent processes of transmutation into new 
human faculty and power. None the less, this same antique 
survival was destined to pass into modes and forms belonging 
quite as much to the Middle Ages as to antiquity; and, 
thus recast, it was to become a broadening and informing 
element in the mediaeval personality. 

1 His letters show sympathetic knowledge of Livy, Sallust, Caesar, Cicero, 
Virgil, Martial and other classics. They are printed in Migne, Pat. Lat., t. ng. 
A sketch of Lupus is given by Mullinger, Schools of Charles the Great, chap. iv. 


Likewise with the patristic Christianity which had been 
transmitted to the Carolingian time, to be then and there 
not only conned and studied, but also rearranged by these 
painful students, so that they and their successors might the 
better comprehend it. It was not for them to change the 
patristic forms organically, by converting them into the 
modes of mediaeval understanding of the same. These 
would be devised, or rather achieved, by later men, living in 
centuries when the patristic heritage of doctrine, long held 
and cherished, had permeated the whole spiritual natures of 
mediaeval men and women, and had been itself transmuted 
in what it had transformed. 1 v 

1 S. Hellmann in his Sedulius Scottus (Quellen, etc., zur latein. Philol., Munich, 
1906), gives a critical text of Sedulius' politico-ecclesiastical tract, De recloribus 
Christianis, and discusses Carolingian political writing. 



I. From Charlemagne to Hildebrand. 
II. The Human Situation. 

III. The Italian Continuity of Antique Culture. 

IV. Italy's Intellectual Piety : Peter Damiani and 

St. Anselm. 

The Empire of Charlemagne could not last. Two obvious 
causes, among others, were enough to prevent it. No single 
government (save when temporarily energized by some ex- 
traordinary ruler) could control such enormous and widely 
separated regions, which included much of the present 
Germany and Austria, the greater part of Italy, France, 
and the Low Countries. Large portions of this Empire 
were almost trackless, and nowhere were there good roads 
and means of transportation. Then, as the second cause, 
within these diverse and ununited lands dwelt or moved 
many peoples differing from each other in blood and language, 
in conditions of life and degrees of civilization or barbarism. 
No power existed that could either hold them in subjection 
or make them into proper constituents of an Empire. 1 

There were other, more particular, causes of dissolution : 
the Frankish custom of partitioning the realm brought war 
between Louis the Pious and his sons, and then among the 

1 In both these respects a contrary condition had made possible the endurance 
of the Roman Empire. Its territories in the main were civilized, and were 
traversed by the best of roads, while many of them lay about that ancient common 
highway of peoples, the Mediterranean. Then the whole Empire was leavened, 
and one part made capable of understanding another, by the Graeco- Roman 


2 4 o THE MEDIAEVAL MIND book n 

latter ; no scion of the Carolingian house was equal to the 
situation ; under the ensuing turbulence, the royal power 
weakened, and local protection, or oppression, took its place ; 
constant war exhausted the strength of the Empire, and 
particularly of Austrasia, while from without Norsemen, 
Slavs, and Saracens were attacking, invading, plundering 
everywhere. These marauders still were heathen, or 
obstinate followers of the Prophet ; while Christianity was 
the bond of unity and empire. Charlemagne and his strong 
predecessors had been able thus to view and use the Church ; 
but the weaker successors, beginning with Louis the Pious, 
too eager for the Church's aid and condonation, found their 
subservience as a reed that broke and pierced the hand. 

These causes quickly brought about the Empire's actual 
dissolution. On the other hand, a potent conception had 
been revived in western Europe. Louis the Pious, himself 
made emperor in Charlemagne's lifetime, associated his 
eldest son with him as co-emperor, and made his two younger 
sons kings, hoping thus to preserve the Empire's unity. If 
that unity forthwith became a name, it was a name to 
conjure with ; and the corresponding imperial fact was to 
be again made actual by the first Saxon Otto, a man worthy 
to reach back across the years and clasp the hand of the great 

That intervening century and a half preceding the year 
962 when Otto was crowned emperor, carried political and 
social changes. To the West, in the old Neustrian kingdom 
which was to form the nucleus of mediaeval France, the 
Carolingian line ran out in degenerates surnamed the Pious, 
the Bald, the Stammerer, the Simple, and the Fat. The 
Counts of Paris, Odo, Robert, Hugh the Great, and, finally, 
Hugh Capet, playing something like the old role of the 
palace mayors, were becoming the actual rulers, although 
not till 987 was the last-named Hugh formally elected and 
anointed king. 

Other great houses also had arisen through the land of 
France, which was very far from being under the power of the 
last Carolingians or the first Capetians. The year 911 saw 
the treaty between Norman Rollo and Charles the Simple, 
and may be taken to symbolize the settling down of Norse- 


men from freebooters to denizens, with a change of faith. 
Rollo received the land between the Epte and the sea, to 
the borders of Brittany, along with temporary privileges, 
granted by the same Simple Charles, of sack and plunder 
over the latter. But a generation later the valiant Count 
Alan of the Twisted Beard drove out the plunderers, and 
established the feudal duchy long to bear the name of 
Brittany. Likewise, aided by the need of protection against 
invading plunderers, feudal principalities were formed in 
Flanders, Champagne, Burgundy, Aquitaine, Languedoc. 

At the time when Hugh Capet drew near his royal destiny, 
his brother was Duke of Burgundy, the Dukes of Normandy 
and Aquitaine were his brothers-in-law, and Adalberon, 
Archbishop of Rheims, was his partisan. As a king elected 
by his peers, his royal rights were only such as sprang from 
the feudal homage and fidelity which they tendered him. 
Yet he, with the clergy, deemed that his consecration by the 
Church gave him the prerogatives of Frankish sovereigns, 
which were patterned on those of Roman emperors and Old 
Testament kings. It was to be the long endeavour of the 
Capetian line to make good these higher claims against the 
counter-assumptions of feudal vassals, who individually 
might be stronger than the king. 1 

Austrasia, the eastern Frankish kingdom, formed the 
centre of those portions of the Carolingian Empire which 
were to remain German. Throughout these lands, as in the 
West, feudal disintegration was progressing. The great 
territorial divisions were set by differences of race or stamm. 
Saxons, Franks, Bavarians, Suabians, had never been one 
people. In the tenth century each of these stamms, with 
the land it dwelt in, made a dukedom ; and there were 
besides marks or frontier lordships, each under its mark- 
grave, upon whom lay the duty of repelling outer foes. 
These divisions, fixed in differences of law, language, and 
blood, were destined to prevent the formation of a strong 
kingdom like that of France. 

Yet what was to prove a veritable German royalty 

1 Within his hereditary domain, Hugh had the powers of other feudal lords ; 
but this domain, instead of expanding, tended to shrink under the reigns of the 
Capetians of the eleventh century 



sprang from the ducal Saxon house. Upon the failure of 
the German Carolingian branch in 911, Conrad, Duke of 
Franconia, was elected king, the Saxons and Suabians con- 
senting. After struggling a few years, mainly against the 
power of the Saxon duke Henry, Conrad at his death in 918 
pronounced in favour of his stronger rival. Thereupon 
Henry, called by later legend " The Fowler," became king, 
and having maintained his royal authority against recal- 
citrants, and fought successfully with Hungarians and 
Bohemians, he died in 936, naming his son Otto as his 

The latter's reign was to be a long and great one. He 
was consecrated at Aix-la-Chapelle in Charlemagne's basilica, 
thus at the outset showing what and whom he had in mind. 
Then and thereafter all manner of internal opposition had 
to be suppressed. His own competing brothers were, first 
of all, to be put down ; and with them the Dukes of Bavaria, 
Franconia, and Lorraine, whom Otto conquered and re- 
placed with men connected with him by ties of blood or 
marriage. Far to the West he made his power felt, settling 
affairs between Louis and Hugh the Great. Hungarians and 
Slavs attacked his realm in vain. New marks were estab- 
lished to hold them in check, and new bishoprics were 
founded, fonts of missionary Christianity and fortresses of 

Thereupon Otto looked southward, over the Alps. To 
say that Italy was sick with turmoil and corruption, and 
exposed to the attack of every foe, is to give but the negative 
and least interesting side. She held more of civilized life 
and of education than any northern land ; she differed from 
the north in her politics and institutions. Feudalism was 
not so universal there, nor so deeply rooted, as in the north ; 
although the Roman barons, who made and unmade popes, 
represented it ; and in many regions, as later among the 
Normans in the south, there was to be a feudal land-holding 
nobility. But in Italy, it was the city, whether under civic 
or episcopal government, or in a despot's grip, that took the 
lead, and was to keep the life of the peninsula predominantly 
urban, as it had been in the Roman time. 

Tenth-century Italy contained enough claimants to the 


royal, even the imperial, title. Rome reeked with faction ; 
and the papal power was nearly snuffed out. Pope followed 
pope, to reign or be dragged from his throne — eight of them 
between 896 and 904. Then began at Rome the domination 
of the notorious, but virile, Theodora and her daughter 
Marozia, makers and perhaps mistresses of popes, and leaders 
in feudal violence. Marozia married a certain valiant 
Alberic, " markgrave of Camerino " and forerunner of many 
a later Italian soldier and tyrant of fortune. When he fell, 
she married again, and overthrew Pope John X., who had 
got the better of her first husband. In 931 she made her son 
pope as John XI. For yet a third husband she took a certain 
King Hugo, a Burgundian ; but another son of hers, a 
second Alberic, roused the city, drove him out, and pro- 
claimed himself " Prince and Senator of all the Romans." 

It was in this Italy that Otto intervened, in 951, drawn 
perhaps by the wrongs of Queen Adelaide, widow of Hugo's 
son, Lothaire, a landless king, since Markgrave Berengar had 
ousted him from his Italian holdings. This Berengar now 
persecuted and imprisoned the queen-widow. She escaped ; 
Otto descended from the Alps, and married her ; Lombardy 
submitted ; Berengar fled. This time Otto did not advance 
to Rome, being impeded by many things — Alberic's refusal 
to admit him, and behind his back in Germany the rebellion 
of his own son Liudolf aided by the Archbishop of Mainz, 
and later by those whom Otto left in Italy to represent him 
as he hurried north. These were straitened times for the 
king, and the Hungarians poured over the boundaries to 
take advantage of the confusion. But Otto's star triumphed 
over both rebels and Hungarians — a bloody star for the 
latter, as the plains of Lech might testify, where they were 
so handled that they never ravaged German lands again. 

Otto's power now reached its zenith. He reordered the 
German dukedoms, filled the archbishoprics with faithful 
servants, bound the German clergy to himself with gifts 
and new foundations, and ruled them like another Charle- 
magne. It was his time to become emperor, an emperor like 
Charlemagne, and not like later weaklings. In 961 he again 
entered Italy, to be greeted with universal acclaim as by 
men longing for a deliverer. He was crowned king in Pavia ; 


the levies of the once more hostile Berengar dispersed before 
him. In February 962 he was anointed emperor at Rome by 
John XII., son of that second Alberic who had refused to 
open the gates, but whose debauched son had called for aid 
upon the mighty German. Once more the Holy Roman 
Empire of the Germans was refounded to endure a while 
with power, and continue a titular existence for eight 

The power of the first Otto was so overwhelming that 
the papacy could not escape the temporary subjection which 
its vile state deserved. And the Empire was its honest 
patron, for the good of both. So on through the reigns of 
Otto II., who died in 983, aged twenty-eight, and his son 
Otto III., who died in 1002, at the age of twenty-two, a 
dreamer and would-be universal potentate. Then came the 
practical-minded rule of the second Henry (1002-1024), who 
still aided and humbly ruled the Church. Conrad II., of 
Franconia, followed, faithful to the imperial tradition. 1 
He was succeeded in 1039 by his son Henry III., beneficent 
and prosperous, if not far-seeing, who again cared for both 
Church and State, and imperially constrained the papacy, 
itself impotent in the grip of the Roman barons and the 
Counts of Tusculum. Henry did not hesitate to clear away 
at once three rival popes (1046) and name a German, 
Clement II. It was this worthy man, but still more another 
German, his successor, Leo IX. (1049-1054), who lifted the 
papacy from its Italian mire, and launched it full on its 
course toward an absolute spiritual supremacy that was to 
carry the temporal control of kings and princes. But the 
man already at the helm was a certain deacon Hildebrand, 
who was destined to guide the papal policy through the 
reigns of successive popes until he himself was hailed as 
Gregory VII. (1073-1085). 2 

With Hildebrand's pontificate, which in truth began 
before he sat in Peter's chair, the reforming spirits among 

1 In Conrad's reign " Burgundy," comprising most of the eastern and southern 
regions of France, and with Lyons and Marseilles, as well as Basle and Geneva 
within its boundaries, was added to the Empire. 

2 Papal elections were freed from lay control, and a great step made toward 
the emancipation of the entire Church, by the decree of Nicholas II. in 1059, 
by which the election of the popes was committed to the conclave of cardinals. 


the clergy, aroused to his keen policy, set themselves to 
the uplifting of their order. In all countries the Church, 
heavy with its possessions, seemed about to become feudal 
and secular. Bishops and abbots were appointed by kings 
and the great feudatories, ancl were by them invested with 
their lands as fiefs, for which the clerical appointee did 
homage, and undertook to perform feudal duties. Church 
fiefs failed to become hereditary only because bishops and 
abbots could not marry ; yet in fact great numbers of the 
lower clergy lived in a state of marriage or " concubinage." 
Evidently the celibacy of the clergy was a vital issue in 
Church reform ; and so were investitures and the matter of 
simony. Under mediaeval conditions, the most open form 
of this " heresy " called after Simon Magus, was the large 
gift from the new incumbent to his feudal lord who had 
invested him with abbey or bishopric. Such simony was 
not wrong from the feudal point of view, and might properly 
represent the duty of bishop or abbot to his lord. 

Obviously, for the reform and emancipation of the 
Church, and in order that it should become a world-power, 
and not remain a semi-secular local institution in each land, 
it was necessary that the three closely connected corruptions 
of simony, lay investitures, and clerical concubinage should 
be destroyed. The papacy addressed itself to this enormous 
task under the leadership of Hildebrand. 1 In his pontificate 
the struggle with the supreme representative of secular 
power, to wit, the Empire, came to a head touching investi- 
tures. Gregory's secular opponent was Henry IV., of tragic 
and unseemly fame ; for whom the conflict proved to be the 
road by which he reached Canossa, dragged by the Pope's 
anathema, and also driven to this shame by a rebellious 
Germany (1076, 1077). Henry was conquered, although a 
revulsion of the long-swaying war drove Gregory from Rome, 
to die an exile for the cause which he deemed that of 

Between the papacy and the secular power represented 
in this struggle by the Empire, a peaceful co-equality could 
not exist. The superiority of the spiritual and eternal over 

1 For the matter of clerical celibacy, and the part played by monasticism in 
these reforms, see post, Chapter XVI. 


the carnal and temporal had to be vindicated ; and in terms 
admitting neither limit nor condition, Hildebrand main- 
tained the Church's universal jurisdiction upon earth. The 
authority granted by Christ to Peter and his successors, the 
popes, was absolute for eternity. Should it not include the 
passing moment of mortal life, important only because 
determining man's eternal lot ? The divine grant was made 
without qualification or exception in saeculo as well as for 
the life to come. If spiritual men are under the Pope's 
jurisdiction, shall he not also constrain secular folk from 
their wickedness ? 1 Were kings excepted when the Lord 
said, Thou art Peter ? 2 Nay ; the salvation of souls 
demands that the Pope shall have full authority in terra 
to suppress the waves of pride with the arms of humility. 
The dictatus papae of the year 1075 make the Pope the head 
of the Christian world : the Roman Church was founded by 
God alone ; the Roman pontiff alone by right is called 
universal ; he alone may use the imperial insignia ; his feet 
alone shall be kissed by all princes ; he may depose emperors 
and release subjects from fealty ; and he can be judged by 
no man. 3 

In the century and a half following Gregory's reign the 
papacy well-nigh attained the realization of the claims made 
by this great upbuilder of its power. 4 Constantine's forged 
donation was outdone in fact ; and the furthest hopes of 
Leo I. and the first, second, and third Gregories were more 
than realized. 


One might liken the Carolingian period to a vessel at her 
dock, taking on her cargo, casks of antique culture and 

1 Gregory VII., Ep. iv. 2 (Migne 148, col. 455). 

2 Ep. viii. 21 (Migne 148, col. 594). 

3 Migne 148, col. 407, 408, and in Jaffe, Regesta Pontificum. The Dictatus is 
thought by many to have been composed by Cardinal Deusdedit a few years later. 
Cf. post, Chapter XXXIV., iv. 

4 As between the Empire and the Papacy the particular struggle over investi- 
tures was adjusted by the Concordat of Worms (1122), by which the Church 
should choose her bishops ; but the elections were to be held in the presence of 
the king, who conferred, by special investiture, the temporal fiefs and privileges. 
For translations of Gregory's Letters and other matter, see J. H. Robinson's 
Readings in European History, i. 274-293. 


huge crates of patristic theology. Then western Europe in 
the eleventh century would be the same vessel getting under 
way, well started on the mediaeval ocean. 

This would be one way of putting the matter. A closer 
simile already used is the likening of the Carolingian period 
to the lusty schoolboy learning his lessons, thinking very 
little for himself. By the eleventh century he will have 
left school, though still impressionable, still with much to 
learn ; but he has begun to turn his conned lessons over in 
his mind, and to think a little in the terms of what he has 
acquired — has even begun to select therefrom tentatively, 
and still under the mastery of the whole. He perceives the 
charm of the antique culture, of the humanly inspiring 
literature, so exhaustless in its profane fascinations ; he is 
realizing the spiritual import of the patristic share of his 
instruction, and already feels the power of emotion which 
lay implicit in the Latin formulation of the Christian Faith. 
Withal he is beginning to evolve an individuality of his own. 

Speaking more explicitly, it should be said that instead 
of one such hopeful youth there are several, or rather groups 
of them, differing widely from each other. The forefathers 
of certain of these groups were civilized and educated men, 
at home in the antique and patristic curriculum with which 
our youths are supposed to have been busy. The fore- 
fathers of other groups were rustics, or rude herdsmen and 
hunters, hard-hitting warriors, who once had served, but 
more latterly had rather lorded it over, the cultivated 
forbears of the others. Still, again, the forefathers of other 
numerous groups had been partly cultivated and partly rude. 
Evidently these groups of youths are diverse in blood and 
in ancestral traits ; evidently also the antique and patristic 
curriculum is quite a new thing to some of them, while 
others had it at their fathers' knees. 

Our different youthful groups represent Italians, 
Germans, and the inhabitants of France and the British 
Isles. One may safely speak of the ninth-century Germans 
as schoolboys just brought face to face with Christianity 
and the antique culture. So with the Saxon stock in 
England. The propriety is not so clear as to the Italians ; 
for they are not newly introduced to these matters. Yet 


their household affairs have been disturbed, and they them- 
selves have slackened in their study. So they too have 
much to learn anew, and may be regarded as truants, 
dirtied and muddied, and perhaps refreshed, by the scrambles 
of their time of truancy, and now returning to lessons which 
they have pretty well forgotten. 

Obviously, in considering the intellectual condition of 
western Europe in the tenth and eleventh centuries, it will 
be convenient to regard each country in turn : and, besides, 
a geographical is more appropriate than a topical arrange- 
ment, because there was still little choice of one branch of 
discipline rather than another. The majority still were 
conning indiscriminately what had come from the past, 
studying heterogeneous matters in the same books, the 
same forlorn compendia. They read the Etymologies of 
Isidore or the corresponding works of Bede, and followed 
as of course the Trivium and Quadrivium. In sacred 
learning they might read the Scriptural Commentaries of 
Rabanus Maurus or Walafrid Strabo, or study the works 
of Augustine. This was still the supreme study, and all 
else, properly viewed, was ancillary to it. Nevertheless, as 
between sacred study and profane literature, an even violent 
divergence of choice existed. Everywhere there were men 
who loved the profanities in themselves, and some who felt 
that for their souls' sake they must abjure them. 

For further diverging lines of preference, one should 
wait for the twelfth century. Many men will then be found 
absorbed in religious study, while others cultivate logic and 
metaphysics, with the desire to know more active in them 
than the fear of hell. Still others will study " grammar " 
and the classics, or, again, with conscious specializing choice, 
devote their energies to the civil or the canon law. In later 
chapters, and mainly with reference to this culminating 
mediaeval time which includes the twelfth, the thirteenth, 
and at least, for Dante's sake, the first part of the fourteenth, 
century, we shall review these various branches of intellectual 
endeavour in topical order. But for the earlier time which 
still enshrouds us, we pass from land to land as on a tour 
of intellectual inspection. 



We start with Italy. There was no break between her 
antique civilization and her mediaeval development, but 
only a period of depression and decay. Notwithstanding 
the change from paganism to Christianity and the influx 
of barbarians, both a race-continuity and a continuity of 
culture persisted. The Italian stock maintained its numerical 
preponderance, as well as the power of transforming new- 
comers to the likeness of itself. The natural qualities of 
the country, and the existence of cities and antique con- 
structions, assisted in the Italianizing of Goth, Lombard, 
German, Norman. Latin civic reminiscence, tradition, 
custom, permeated society, and prevented the growth of 
feudalism. Italy remained urban, and continued to reflect 
the ancient time. " Consuls " and " tribunes " long survived 
the passing of their antique functions, and the fame endured 
of antique heroes, mythical and historical. Florence 
honoured Mars and Caesar ; Padua had Antenor, Cremona 
Hercules. Such names remained veritably eponymous. 
Other cities claimed the birthplace of Pliny," of Ovid, of 
Virgil. An altar might no longer be dedicated to a pagan 
hero, yet the town would preserve his name upon monu- 
ments, would adorn his fancied tomb, stamp his effigy on 
coins or keep it in the communal seal. Of course the 
figments of the Trojan Saga were current through the land, 
which, however divided, was conscious of itself as Italy. Te 
Italia plorabit writes an eleventh-century Pisan poet of a 
young Pisan noble fallen in Africa. 

In Italy, as in no other country, the currents of antique 
education, disturbed yet unbroken, carried clear across that 
long period of invasions, catastrophes, and reconstructions, 
which began with the time of Alaric. Under the later 
pagan emperors, and under Constantine and his successors, 
the private schools of grammar and rhetoric had tended to 
decline. There were fewer pupils with inclination and 
ability to pay. So the emperors established municipal 
schools in the towns of Italy and the provinces. The towns 
tried to shirk the burden, and the teachers, whose pay came 


tardily, had to look to private pupils for support. In Italy 
there was always some demand for instruction in grammar 
and law. The supply rose and fell with the happier or the 
more devastated condition of the land. Theodoric the 
Ostrogoth re-established municipal schools through his 
dominion. After him further troubles came, for example 
from the Lombards, until they too became gentled by 
Italian conditions, and their kings and nobles sought to 
encourage and acquire the education and culture which 
their coming had disturbed. In the seventh and eighth 
(centuries the grade of instruction was very low ; but there 
is evidence of the unintermitted existence of lay schools, 
private or municipal, in all the important towns, from the 
eighth century to the tenth, the eleventh, and so on and on. 
These did not give religious instruction, but taught grammar 
and the classic literature, law and the art of drawing 
documents and writing letters. The former branches of 
study appear singularly profane in Italy. The literature 
exemplifying the principles of grammar was pagan and 
classical, and the fictitious themes on which the pupils 
exercised their eloquence continued such as might have 
been orated on in the time of Quintilian. Intellectually 
the instruction was poverty-stricken, but the point to note 
is, that in Italy there never ceased to be schools conducted 
by laymen for laymen, where instruction in matters profane 
and secular was imparted and received for the sake of its 
profane and secular value, without regard to its utility for 
the saving of souls. There was no barbaric contempt for 
letters, nor did the laity fear them as a spiritual peril. 
Gerbert before the year iooo had found Italy the field for 
the purchase of books ; x and about 1028 Wipo, a native 
of Burgundy and chaplain of the emperor Conrad II., 
contrasts the ignorance of Germany with Italy, where " the 
entire youth (tota juventus) is sent to sweat in the schools " ; 2 
and about the middle of the twelfth century, Otto of Freising 
suggests a like contrast between the Italy and Germany of 
his time. 3 

1 See post, Chapter XII., i. The copying of manuscripts was a lucrative pro- 
fession in Italy. 

2 Tetralogus, Pertz, Mon. Germ, scriptores, xi. 251. 

3 The clerical schools were no less important than the lay, but less distinctive 


In Italy the study of grammar, with all that it included, 
was established in tradition, and also was regarded as a 
necessary preparation for the study both of law and medicine. 
Even in the eleventh century these professions were followed 
by men who were " grammarians," a term to be taken to 
mean for the early Middle Ages the profession of letters. 
In the eleventh century, a lawyer or notary in Italy (where 
there were always such, and some study of law and legal 
forms) needed education in a Latinity different from the 
vulgar Latin which was turning into Italian. A little later, 
Irnerius, the founder of the Bologna school, was a teacher 
of " grammar " before he became a teacher of law. 1 As for 
medicine, that appears always to have been cultivated at 
least in southern Italy ; and a knowledge of grammar, even 
of logic, was required for its study. 2 

The survival of medical knowledge in Italy did not, in 
means and manner, differ from the survival of the rest of 
the antique culture. Some acquaintance had continued 
with the works of Galen and other ancient physicians ; but 
more use was made of compendia, the matter of which may 

because their fellows existed north of the Alps. Cathedral schools may be 
obscurely traced back to the fifth century ; and there were schools under the 
direction of the parish priests. In them aspirants for the priesthood were 
educated, receiving some Latin and some doctrinal instruction. So the cathedral 
and parochial schools helped to preserve the elements of antique education ; but 
they present no such open cultivation of letters for their own profane sake as may 
be found in the schools of lay grammarians. The monastic schools are better 
known. From the ninth century they usually consisted of an outer school (schola 
exterior) for the laity and youths who wished to become secular priests, and an 
inner school {interior) for those desiring to become monks. At different times 
the monastery schools of Bobbio, Farfa, and other places rose to fame, but Monte 
Cassino outshone them all. 

As to the schools and culture of Italy during the early Middle Ages, see Ozanam, 
Les 'Ecoles en Italie aux temps barbares (in his Documents inSdits, etc., and printed 
elsewhere) ; Giesebrecht, De literarum studiis apud Italos, etc. (translated into 
Italian by C. Pascal, Florence, 1895, under the title V Istruzione in Italia nei 
primi secoli del Medio-Evo) ; G. Salvioli, V Istruzione publica in Italia nei secoli 
VIII., IX., X. (Florence, 1898) ; Novati, V Influsso del pensiero latino sopra la 
civiltd italiana del Medio-Evo (2nd ed., Milan, 1899). 

1 See post, Chapter XXXIV., 111. 

2 At Salerno, according to the Constitution of Frederick II., three years' 
preliminary study of the scientia logicalis was demanded, because " numquam sciri 
potest scientia medicinae nisi de scientia logicali aliquid praesciatur " (cited by 
Novati, U Influsso del pensiero latino, etc., p. 220). Just as Law and Medical 
Schools in the United States may require a college diploma from applicants for 


have been taken from Galen, but was larded with current 
superstitions regarding disease. Such compendia began to 
appear in the fifth century, and through these and other 
channels a considerable medical knowledge found its way 
to a congenial home in Salerno. There are references to 
this town as a medical community as early as the ninth 
century. By the eleventh, it was famous for its medicine. 
About the year 1060 a certain Constantine seems to have 
brought there novel and stimulating medical knowledge 
which he had gained in Africa from Arabian (ultimately 
Greek) sources. Nevertheless, translations from the Arabic 
seem scarcely to have exerted much influence upon medicine 
for yet another hundred years. 1 

Thus in Italy the antique education never stopped, 
antique reminiscence and tradition never passed away, and 
the literary matter of the pagan past never faded from the 
consciousness of the more educated among the laity and 
clergy. Some understanding of the classic literature, as 
well as a daily absorption of the antique from its survival 
in habits, laws, and institutions, made part of the capacities 
and temperament of Italians. Grammarians, lawyers, 
doctors, monks even, might think and produce under the 
influence of that which never had quite fallen from the life 
of Italy. And just as the ancient ways of civic life and 
styles of building became rude and impoverished, and yet 
passed on without any abrupt break into the tenth and the 
eleventh centuries, so was it with the literature of Italy, or 
at least with those productions which were sheer literature, 
and not deflected from traditional modes of expression by 
any definite business or by the distorting sentiments of 
Christian asceticism. This literature proper was likely to 
take the form of verse in the eleventh century. A practical 
matter would be put in prose ; but the effervescence of the 
soul, or the intended literary effort, would fall into rhyme or 
resort to metre. 

We have an example of the former in those often-cited 

1 On Constantine see Wiistenfeld, " tibersetzungen arabischer Werke," etc. 
Abhand. Gottingen Gesellschaft, vol. 22 (1877), pp. 10-20, and p. 55 sqq. Also 
on the Salerno school, Daremberg, Hist, des sciences midicales, vol. i. p. 
254 sqq. 


tenth-century verses exhorting the watchers on the walls of 

Modena : 

"O tu qui servas armis ista moenia, 
Noli dormire, moneo, sed vigila. 
Dum Hector vigil extitit in Troia, 
Non earn cepit fraudulenta Graecia. 

" Vigili voce avis anser Candida 
Fugavit Gallos ex arce Romulea." 

The antique reminiscence fills this jingle, as it does the 


" O admirabile Veneris ydolum 
Cuius materiae nichil est frivolum : 
Archos te protegat, qui stellas et polum 
Fecit et maria condidit et solum." l 

And so on from century to century. At the end of the 
eleventh, a Pisan poet celebrates Pisa's victory over Saracens ' 
in Africa : 

" Inclytorum Pisanorum scripturus historiam, 
Antiquorum Romanorum renovo memoriam, 
Nam ostendit modo Pisa laudem admirabilem, 
Quam olim recepit Roma vincendo Carthaginem." 

For an eleventh-century example of more literary verse, 
one may turn to the metres of Alphanus, a noble Salernian, 
lover of letters, pilgrim traveller, archbishop of his native 
town, and monk of Monte Cassino, the parent Benedictine 
monastery, which had been the cultured retreat of Paulus 
Diaconus in the time of Charlemagne. It was destroyed 
by the Saracens in 884. Learning languished in the 
calamitous decades which followed. But the convent was 
rebuilt, and some care for learning recommences there under 
the abbot Theobald (1022-1035). The monastery's troubles 
were not over ; but it re-entered upon prosperity under the 
energetic rule of the German Richer (1038-1055). 2 Shortly 

1 Traube, " O Roma nobilis," Abhand. philos.-philol. Classe Bayer. Akad. Bd. 
19, p. 301. This poem probably belongs to the tenth century. "Archos" is 
mediaeval Greek for " The Lord." 

2 The Rationes dictandi, a much-used book on the art of composing letters, 
comes from the hand of one Alberic, who was a monk at Monte Cassino in the 
middle of the eleventh century. He died a cardinal in 1088. The ars dictaminis 
related either to drawing legal documents or composing letters. See post, Chapter 
XXXI., 11. 


after his death two close friends were received among its 
monks, Alphanus and Desiderius. The latter was of princely 
Lombard stock, from Beneventum. He met Alphanus at 
Salerno, and there they became friends. Afterwards both 
saw something of the world and experienced its perils. 
Desiderius was born to be monk, abbot, and at last pope 
(Victor III.) against his will. Alphanus, always a man of 
letters, was drawn by his friend to monastic life. Long 
after, when Archbishop of Salerno, he gave a refuge and a 
tomb to the outworn Hildebrand. 

The rebuilding and adorning of Monte Cassino by 
Desiderius with the aid of Greek artists is a notable episode 
in the history of art. 1 Under the long rule of this great 
abbot (1058-1087) the monastery reached the summit of 
its repute and influence. It was the home of theology and 
ecclesiastical policy. There law and medicine were studied. 
Likewise " grammar " and classic literature, the latter not 
too broadly, as would appear from the list of manuscripts 
copied under Desiderius — Virgil, Ovid, Terence, Seneca, 
Cicero's De natura deorum. But then there was the whole 
host of early Christian poets, historians, and theologians. 
Naturally, Christian studies were dominant within those 

Alphanus did not spend many of his years there. But 
his loyalty to the great monastery never failed, nor his 
intercourse with its abbot and monks. He has left an 
enthusiastic poem descriptive of the place and the splendour 
of its building. 2 A general and interesting feature of his 
poetry is the naturalness of its classical reminiscence and 
its feeling for the past, which is even translated into the 
poet's sentiments toward his contemporaries and toward 
life. In his metrical verses ad Hildebrandum archidiaconum 
Romanum, his stirring praise of that statesman is imbued 
with pagan sentiment. 

" How great the glory which so often comes to those defending 
the republic, has not escaped thy knowledge, Hildebrand. The 
Via Sacra and the Via Latina recall the same, and the lofty crown 

1 See E. Bertaux, UAH dans Vltalie miridionale, i. 155 sqq. (Paris, 1904). 

2 The poems of Alphanus are in Migne, Pat. Lat. 147, col. 1219-1268. 


of the Capitol, that mighty seat of empire. . . . The hidden poison 
of envy implants its infirmity in wretched affairs, and brings over- 
throw only to such. That thou shouldst be envied, and not envy, 
beseems thy skill. . . . How great the power of the anathema ! 
Whatever Marius and Julius wrought with the slaughter of 
soldiers, thou dost with thy small voice. . . . What more does 
Rome owe to the Scipios and the other Quirites than to thee ? " 

Perhaps the glyconic metre of this poem was too 
much for Alphanus. His awkward constructions, however, 
constantly reflect classic phrases. And how naturally his 
mind reproduced the old pagan — or fundamental human — 
views of life, appears again in his admiring sapphics to 
Romuald, chief among Salerno's lawyers : 

" Dulcis orator, vehemens gravisque, 
Inter omnes causidicos perennem 
Gloriam juris tibi, Romualde,. 
Prestitit usus." 

Further stanzas follow on Romuald's wealth, station, 
and mundane felicity. Then comes the sudden turn, and 
Romuald is praised for having spurned them all : 

" Cumque sic felix, ut in orbe sidus 
Fulseris, mundum roseo jacentem 
Flore sprevisti. ..." 

Apparently Romuald had become a monk : 

" Rite fecisti, potiore vita 
Perfruiturus." * 

This turn of sentiment curiously accorded with the poet's 
own fortune and way of life ; for Alphanus, with all his 
love of antique letters, was also a monk and an ascetic, of 
whom a contemporary chronicler tells that in Lent he ate 
but twice a week and never slept on a bed. Yet monk, and 
occasional ascetic, as he was, the ordinary antique-descended 
education and inherited strains of antique feeling made the 
substratum of his nature, and this although he could inveigh 
against the philosophic and grammatical studies flourishing 

1 " Ad Romualdum causidicum," printed in Ozanam, Doc. intdits, p. 259. 


in a neighbouring monastery, and advise one of its studious 
youths to turn from such : 

" Si, Transmunde, mihi credis, amice, 
His uti studiis desine tandem ; 
Fac cures monachi scire professum, 
Ut vere sapiens esse puteris." : 

Eleventh-century Italian " versificatores " were interested 
in a variety of things. Some of them gave the story of a 
saint's or bishop's life, or were occupied with an ecclesiastic 
theme. Others sang the fierce struggle between rival cities, 
or some victory over Saracens, or made an idyl of very 
human love with mythological appurtenances. The verse- 
forms either followed the antique metres or were accentual 
deflections from them with the new added element of rhyme ; 
the ways of expression copied antique phrase and simile, 
except when the matter and sentiment of the poem compelled 
another choice. In that case the Latin becomes freer, more 
mediaeval, ruder, if one will ; and still antique turns of 
expression and bits of sentences show how naturally it came 
to these men to construct their verses out of ancient phrases. 
Yet borrowed phrases and the constraint of metre impeded 
spontaneity, and these feeble versifiers could hardly create 
in modes of the antique. A fresher spirit breathes in certain 
anonymous poems, which have broken with metre, while they 
give voice to sentiments quite after the feeling of the old 
Italian paganism. In one of these, from Ivrea, the poet 
meets a nymph by the banks of the Po, and in leonine 
elegiacs bespeaks her love, with all the paraphernalia of 
antique reference, assuring her that his verse shall make her 
immortal, a perfectly pagan sentiment — or affectation : 

" Sum sum sum vates, musarum servo penates, 

Subpeditante Clio queque futura scio. 
Me minus extollo, quamvis mihi cedit Apollo, 

Invidet et cedit, scire Minerva dedit. 
Laude mea vivit mihi se dare queque cupivit, 

Immortalis erit, ni mea Musa perit." 2 

1 Printed in Giesebrecht, De lit. stud., etc. 

2 Printed by Dummler in Anselm der Peripatetiker, pp. 94-102. See also the 
rhyming colloquy between Helen and Ganymede, of the twelfth century, printed 
in Ozanam, Documents inedits, etc., p. 19. 


It is obvious that in the tenth and eleventh centuries 
there were Italians whose sentiments and intellectual interests 
were profane, humanistic in a word. These men might even 
be high ecclesiastics, like Liutprand, Bishop of Cremona 
(d. 972) .* He was of Lombard stock, and yet a genuine 
Italian, bred in an atmosphere of classical reminiscence and 
contemporary gossip and misdeed. Politically, at least, the 
Italy of John XII. was not so much better than its pope ; 
and the Antapodosis of Liutprand goes along in its easy, 
and often dramatic way, telling of crime and perfidy, and 
showing scant horror. It was a general history of the 
historian's times, written while in exile in Germany ; for 
Liutprand had been driven out of Italy by King Berengar, 
whom he had once served. He hated Berengar and his wife, 
and although well received at the Court of the great Otto, he 
did not love his place of exile. 2 

In exile Liutprand wrote his book to requite Berengar. 
The work had also a broader purpose, yet one just as con- 
solatory to the writer. It should acknowledge and show 
the justice of the divine judgments exemplified in history. 
Herein lay a fuller, although less Italian, consolation for his 
exile than in Berengar's requital. Liutprand keeps in mind 
Boethius and his De consolatione, and regards his own work 
as a Consolation of History, as that of Boethius was a Con- 
solation of Philosophy. The paths of Liutprand's Consola- 
tion are as broad as the justice and power of the Trinity, 
" which casts down these for their wicked deeds and raises up 
those for their merits' sake." 3 

Quite explicitly he explains the title and reason of his 
work at the opening of its third book : 

" Since it will show the deeds of famous men, why call it Anta- 
podosis ? I reply : Its object is to set forth and cry aloud the acts 
of this Berengar who at this moment does not reign but tyrannize 
in Italy, and of his wife Willa, who for the boundlessness of her 
tyranny should be called a second Jezebel, and Lamia for her 
insatiate rapines. Me and my house, my family and kin, have 

1 On Liutprand see Ebert, Ges. der Lit. iii. 414-427 ; Molinier, Sources de 
Vhistoire de France, i. 274. His works are in the Monumenta Ger., also in 136 of 
Migne. The Antapodosis and Embassy to Constantinople are translated into 
German in the Geschichtsschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit. 

2 See Antapod. vi. 1 (Migne 136, col. 893). 

3 Antapod. i. 1 (Migne 136, col. 791). 



they harassed with so many javelins of lies, so many spoliations, 
so many essays of wickedness, that neither tongue nor pen can 
avail to set them forth. May then these pages be to them an 
antapodosis, that is retribution, to make their wickedness naked 
before men living and unborn. None the less may it prove an 
antapodosis for the benefits conferred on me by holy and happy 
men." 1 

Liutprand's narrative is breezy and interspersed with 
ribald tales. The writer meant to amuse his readers and 
himself. These literary qualities give picturesqueness to his 
well-known Embassy to Constantinople, where he was sent 
by Otto the Great, for purposes of peace and to ask the 
hand of the Byzantine princess for Otto II. The highly 
coloured ceremonial life of the Greek Court, the chicane and 
contemptuous treatment met with, the spirited words of 
Liutprand, and the rancour of this same thwarted envoy, all 
appear vividly in his report. 2 

There were also many laymen occupied with Latin 
studies. Such a one was Gunzo of Novara, a curiously vain 
grammarian of the second half of the tenth century. 
According to his own story, the fame of his learning incited 
Otto the Great to implore his presence in Germany. So he 
condescended to cross the Alps, with all his books, perhaps 
in the year 965. On his way he stopped with the monks of 
St. Gall, themselves proud of their learning, and perhaps 
jealous of the southern scholar. As the weary Gunzo was 
lifted, half frozen, from his horse at the convent door, and 
the brethren stood about, a young monk caught at a slip in 
grammar, and made a skit on him — because, forsooth, he had 
used an accusative when it should have been an ablative. 

Gunzo neither forgave nor forgot. Passing on to the 
rival congregation of Reichenau, he composed a long and 
angry epistle of pedantic excuse and satirical invective, 
addressed to his former hosts. 3 In it he parades his wide 
knowledge of classic authors, justifies what the monks of St. 
Gall had presumed to mock as a ridiculous barbarism, and 
closes with a prayer for them in hexameters. His letter 
contains the interesting avowal, that, although the monk of 

1 Migne 136, col. 837. 

2 Legatio Constantinopolitana (Migne 136, col. 909-937). 

3 Migne, Pat. Lat. 136, col. 1283-1302. 


St. Gall had wrongly deemed him ignorant of grammar, his 
Latin sometimes was impeded by the " usu nostrae vulgaris 
linguae, quae latinitati vicina est." So a slip would be due 
not to unfamiliarity with Latin, but to an excessive colloquial 
familiarity with the vulgar tongue which had scarcely ceased 
to be Latin — an excuse no German monk could have given. 
It is amusing to see an Italian grammarian of this early 
period enter the lists to defend his reputation and assuage 
his wounded vanity. Later, such learned battles became 
frequent. 1 

Gunzo died as the tenth century closed. Other Italians 
of his time and after him crossed the Alps to learn and 
teach and play the orator. From the early eleventh century 
comes a satirical sketch of one. The subject was a certain 
Benedict, Prior of the Abbey of St. Michael of Chiusa, and 
nephew of its abbot — therefore doubtless born to wealth and 
position. At all events as a youth he had moved about for 
nine years " per multa loca in Longobardia et Francia 
propter grammaticam," spending the huge sum of two 
thousand gold soldi. His pride was unmeasured. " I have 
two houses full of books ; there is no book on the earth that 
I do not possess. I study them every day. I can discourse 
on letters. There is no instruction to be had in Aquitaine, 
and but little in Francia. Lombardy, where I learned most, 
is the cradle of knowledge." So the satire makes Benedict 
speak of himself. Then it makes a monk sketch Benedict's 
sojourn at a convent in Angouleme : " He knows more than 
any man I ever saw. We have heard his chatter the whole 
day. quam loquax est ! He is never tired. Wherever 
he may be, standing, sitting, walking, lying, words pour from 
his mouth like water from the Tigris. He orders the whole 
convent about as if he were Abbot. Monks, laity, clergy, 
do nothing without his nod. A multitude of the people, 
knights too, were always hastening to hear him, as the goal 
of their desires. Untired, hurling words the entire day. he 
sends them off worn out. And they depart, saying : Never 
have we seen sic eloquentem grammaticum." 2 

1 See Ebert, Allgem. Ges. hi. 370, etc. ; Novati, V Influsso del pensiero latino, 
etc., p. 31 sqq. ; and Migne, Pat. Lat. 136. 

2 See Novati, V Influsso, etc., pp. 188-191. The passage is from the vitu- 
perative polemic of a certain Ademarus (Migne, Pat. Lat. 141, col. 107-108). 


Another of these early wandering Italian humanists won 
kinder notice, a certain Lombard Guido, who died where 
he was teaching in Auxerre, in 1095, and was lamented in 
leonine hexameters : " Alas, famous man, so abounding, so 
diligent, so praised, so venerated through many lands — 

" Filius Italiae, sed alumnus Philosophiae. 

Let Gaul grieve, and thou Philosophy who nourished him : 
Grieve Grammar, thou. With his death the words of Plato 
died, the work of Cicero is blotted out, Maro is silent and 
the muse of Naso stops her song." 1 

A final instance to close our examples. In the middle 
of the eleventh century flourished Anselm the Peripatetic, 
a rhetorician and humanist of Besate (near Milan). In his 
Rhetorimachia he tells of a dream in which he finds him- 
self in Heaven, surrounded and embraced by saintly souls. 
Their spiritual kisses were still on his lips when three 
virgins of another ilk appear, to reproach him with for- 
saking them. These are Dialectic and Rhetoric and Grammar 
— we have met them before ! Now the embraces of the 
saints seem cold ! and to the protests of the blessed throng 
that Anselm is theirs, the virgins make reply that he is 
altogether their own fosterling. Anselm gives up the saints 
and departs with the three. 2 This was his humanistic choice. 

This rather pleasant dream discloses the conflict between 
Letters and the call of piety, which might harass the learned 
and the holy in Italy. Distrust of the enticements of pagan 
letters might transform itself to diabolic visions. Such a 
tale comes from the neighbourhood of Ravenna, in the late 
tenth century. It is of one Vilgard, a grammarian, who 
became infatuated with the great pagan poets, till their 
figures waved through his dreams and he heard their thanks 
and assurances that he should participate in their glory. 
He foolishly began to teach matters contrary to the Faith, 
and in the end was condemned as a heretic. Others were 
infected with his opinions, and perished by the sword and fire. 3 

1 Diimmler, " Gedichte aus Abdinghof," in Neues Archiv, v. i (1876), p. 181 
(cited by Novati, p. 192). 

2 Diimmler, Anselm der Peripatetiker, p. 36 sqq. ; cf. Haureau, Singularity 
historiques, p. 179 sqq. 

3 The account is from Radolphus Glaber, Historiarum libri, ii. 12. 


Evidently Vilgard's profane studies made him a heretic. 
But, ordinarily, the Italians with their antique descended 
temperament were not troubled in the observance and the 
expression of their Faith by the paganism of their intellectual 
tastes. Such tastes did not produce open heretics in Italy 
in the eleventh century any more than in the fifteenth. A 
pagan disposition seldom prevented an Italian from being a 
good Catholic. 

Yet the monastic spirit in Italy, as elsewhere, in the 
eleventh century defied and condemned the pagan literature, 
and in fact all Latin studies beyond the elements of grammar. 
The protest of the monk or hermit might represent his 
individual ignorance of classic literature ; or, as in the case 
of Peter Damiani, the ascetic soul is horrified at the seductive 
nature of the pagan sweets which it knows too well. Peter 
indeed could say in his sonorous Latin : " Olim mihi Tullius 
dulcescebat, blandiebantur carmina poetarum, philosophi 
verbis aureis insplendebant, et Sirenes usque in exitium 
dulces meum incantaverunt intellectum. ' ' 1 So a few decades 
after Peter's death, Rangerius, Bishop of Lucca, writes the 
life of an episcopal predecessor in elegiacs which show 
considerable knowledge of grammar and prosody ; and yet 
he protests against liberal studies — philosophy, astronomy, 
grammar — with pithy commonplace : 

" Et nos ergo scholas non spectamus inanes 

Scire Deum satis est, quo nulla scientia maior." 2 

\So with the Italians the antique never was an influence 
brought from without, but always an element of their 
temperament and faculties.) We have not seen that they 
recast it into novel and interesting forms in the eleventh 
century ; yet they used it familiarly as something of their 
own, being quite at home with it. As one may imagine 
some grand old Roman garden, planned and constructed by 

1 On Damiani's views of classical studies, see Opusc. xi., Liber qui dicitur 
Dominus vobiscum, cap. i. (Migne 145, col. 232) ; Opusc. xlv., De sancta simplicitate 
(ibid. col. 695) ; Opusc. lviii., De vera felicitate et sapientia (ibid. col. 831). For the 
life and works of this interesting man see post, p. 262 sqq., and post, Chapter XVII. 
Cf. also J. A. Endres, Petrus Damiani und die weltlicheiWissenschaft (Baeumker's 
Beitrdge, 19 10). 

2 Vita Anselmi, 1247 (cited by Ronca, p. 227). 


rich and talented ancestors, and still remaining as a home 
and heritage to descendants whose wealth and capacities 
have shrunken. The garden is somewhat ruinous, and fallen 
to decay ; yet these sons are still at home in it, their daily 
steps pursue its ancient avenues ; they still recline upon the 
marble seats by the fountains where perhaps scant water 
runs. Fauns and satyrs — ears gone and noses broken — 
with even an occasional god, still haunt the courts and 
sylvan paths, while everywhere, above and about these lazy 
sons, the lights still chase the shadows, and anon the shadows 
darken the green and yellow flashes. Perhaps nothing in 
the garden has become so subtly in and of the race as this 
play of light and shade. And when the Italian genius shall 
revive again, and children's children find themselves with 
power, still within this ancient garden the great vernacular 
poems will be composed ; great paintings will be painted in 
its light and shade and under the influence of its formal 
beauties ; and Italian buildings will never escape the power 
of the ruined structures found therein. 


In the tenth and eleventh centuries, as remarked already, 
studiously inclined people made no particular selection of 
one study rather than another. But men discriminated 
sharply between religious devotion and all profane pursuits. 
Energies which were regarded as religious might have a 
political-ecclesiastical character, and be devoted to the 
purification and upbuilding of the Church ; or they might 
be intellectual and aloof ; or ascetic and emotional. All 
three modes might exist together in religious-minded men ; 
but usually one form would dominate, and mark the man's 
individuality. Hildebrand, for example, was a monk, fervent 
and ascetic ; but his strength was devoted to the discipline of 
the clergy and the elevation of the papal power. In the great 
Hildebrandine Church which was his more than any other 
man's creation, the organizing and political genius of Rome 
re-emerges, and Rome becomes again the seat of Empire. 1 

1 Another great politico-ecclesiastical Italian was Lanfranc (cir. 1005-1089), 
whose life was almost exactly contemporaneous with that of Hildebrand. He was 


Eminent examples of Italians who illustrate the ascetic- 
emotional and the intellectual mode of religious devotion 
are the two very different saints, Peter Damiani and Anselm. 
The former, to whom we shall again refer when considering 
the ideals of the hermit life, was born in Ravenna not long 
after the year 1000. His parents, who were poor, seem to 
have thought him an unwelcome addition to their already 
burdensome family. His was a hard lot until he reached the 
age of ten, when his elder brother Damianus was made an 
archpresbyter in Ravenna and took Peter to live with him, 
to educate the gifted boy. From his brother's house the 
youth proceeded in search of further instruction, first to 
Faenza, then to Parma. He became proficient in the 
secular knowledge comprised in the Seven Liberal Arts, and 
soon began to teach. A growing reputation brought many 
pupils, who paid such fees that Peter had amassed consider- 
able property when he decided upon a change of life. For 
some years he had been fearful of the world, and he now 
turned from secular to religious studies. He put on hair- 
cloth underneath the gentler garb in which he was seen of 
men, and became earnest in vigils, fasts, and prayers. In 
the night-time he quelled the lusts of the flesh by immersing 
himself in flowing water ; he overcame the temptations of 
avarice and pride by lavishly giving to the poor, and tending 
them at his own table. Still he felt unsafe, and yearned to 
escape the dangers of worldly living. A number of hermits 
dwelt in a community known as the Hermitage of the Holy 
Cross of Fonte Avellana, near Faenza ; Peter became one 
of them shortly before his thirtieth year. They lived 
ascetically, two in a cell together, spending their time in 
watching, fasting, and prayer : thus they fought the Evil 

born in high station at Pavia, and educated in letters and the law. Seized with 
the desire to be a monk, he left his home and passed through France, sojourning 
on his way, until he came to the convent of Bee in Normandy, in the year 1042. 
A man of practical ability and a great teacher, it was he that made the monastery 
great. Men, lay and clerical, noble and base, came thronging to hear him : 
Anselm came and Ives of Chartres, both future saints, and one who afterwards as 
Pope Alexander II. rose before Lanfranc, then Archbishop of Canterbury, and said : 
" Thus I honour, not the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the master of the school 
of Bee, at whose feet I sat with other pupils." William the Conqueror made 
Lanfranc Primate of England and prince-ruler of the land in the Conqueror's 


One. Damiani was not satisfied merely with following the 
austerities practised at Fonte Avcllana. Quickly he sur- 
passed all his fellows, except a certain mail-clad Dominic, 
whose scourgings he could not equal. His chief asceticism 
lay in the temper of his soul. 

From this congenial community (the hermits had made 
him their prior) Damiani was drawn forth to serve the 
Church more actively, sorely against his will, and was made 
Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia by Pope Stephen IX. in 1058. 
It was indeed the hand of Hildebrand, already directing 
the papal policy, that had fastened on this unwilling yet 
serviceable tool. Peter feared and also looked askance 
upon the relentless spirit, whom he called Sanctus Satanas, 
not deeming him to be altogether of the kingdom of heaven. 
He deprecates his censure upon one occasion : "I humbly 
beg that my Saint Satan may not rage so cruelly against 
me, and that his worshipful pride may not destroy me 
with long scourgings ; rather straightway, may it, appeased, 
quiet to a calm around his servant. In this same letter, 
which is addressed to the two conspiring souls, Pope Alex- 
ander II. and Archdeacon Hildebrand, he sarcastically 
likens them to the Wind and the Sun of Aesop's fable, who 
contended as to which could the sooner strip the Traveller 
of his cloak. 1 Peter's tongue was sharp enough, and apt 
to indulge in epigram : 

" Wilt thou live in Rome, cry aloud : 
The Pope's lord more than the Lord Pope I obey." 

And another squib he writes on Hildebrand : 

" Papam rite colo, sed te prostratus adoro ; 
Tu facis hunc dominum, te facit iste deum." 2 

It was, however, for his own soul that Damiani feared, 
while in the service of the Curia. To Desiderius, Abbot of 
Monte Cassino, he exclaims : "He errs, Father, errs indeed, 
who imagines he can be a monk and at the same time 
zealously serve the Curia. Ill he bargains, who presumes to 

1 Petri Damiani Ep. i. xvi. (Migne 144, col. 236). Damiani's works are con- 
tained in Migne 144 and 145. Alexander II. was pope from 1061 to 1073, when 
he was succeeded by Hildebrand. 

2 Migne, Pat. Lot. 145, col. 961, 967. 


desert the cloister, that he may take up the warfare of the 
world." 1 

Albeit against his will, Damiani became a soldier of 
the Church in the fields of her secular militancy against the 
world. He was sent on more than one important mission — 
to Milan, to crush the married priests and establish the 
Pope's authority, or to Mainz, there to quell a rebellious 
archbishop and a youthful German king. Such missions 
and others he might accomplish with holy strenuousness ; 
his more spontaneous zeal, however, was set upon the task 
of cleansing the immoralities of monks and clergy. In spite 
of his enforced relations with the powers of the world, he 
was a fiery reforming ascetic, a scourge of his time's wicked- 
ness, rather than a statesman of the Church. His writings 
were a vent for the outcries of his horror-stricken soul. 
The corruption of the clergy filled his nostrils : they were 
rotten, like the loin-cloth of Jeremiah, hidden by the 
Euphrates ; their bellies were full of drunkenness and lust. 2 
As for the apostolic see : 

" Heu ! sedes apostolica, 
Orbis olim gloria, 
Nunc, proh dolor ! efificeris 
Officina Simonis." 3 

These, with other verses written in tears, relate to schisms 
of pope and antipope which so often rent the papacy in 
Peter's lifetime. 4 He never ceased to cry out against monks 

1 Opusculum, xxxvi. (Migne 145, col. 595). It is also bad to be an abbot, 
as Damiani shows in plaintive and almost humorous verses : 

" Nullus pene abbas modo 
Valet esse monachus, 
Dum diversum et nocivum 
Sustinet negotium : 
Et, quod velit sustinere, 
Velut iniquus patitur 

" Spiritaliter abbatem 
Volunt fratres vivere, 
Et per causas saeculares 
Cogunt ilium pergere ; 
Per tarn itaque diversa 
Quis valet incedere ? " 

De abbatum miseria rhythmus 
(Migne, Pat. Lat. 145, col. 972). 

2 Lib. v. Ep. iv. ; cf. Jer. xiii. 

3 Ep. iv. n (Migne, Pat. Lat. 144, col. 313). 

4 He died in 1072, a year before Hildebrand was made pope. 


and clergy, denouncing their simony and avarice, their 
luxury, intemperance and vile unchastity, their viciousness 
of every kind. Such denunciations fill his letters, while 
many of his other writings chiefly consist of them. 1 They 
culminate in his horrible Liber Gomorrhianus, which was 
issued with the approval of one pope, to be suppressed by 
another as too unspeakable. 

Naturally over so foul a world, flame and lower the 
terrors of the Day of Judgment. For Damiani it was near 
at hand. He writes to a certain judge : 

" Therefore, lord and father, now while the world smiles for 
thee, while thy body glows in health, while the prosperity of earth 
allures, think upon those things which are to come. Deem 
whatever is transitory to be but as the illusion of a dream. And 
that terrible day of the last Judgment keep ever present to thy 
sight, and brood with quaking bowels over the sudden coming of 
such majesty — nor think it to be far off ! " 2 

Beware of penitence postponed ! 

" O how full of grief and dole is that late unfruitful repentance, 
when the sinful soul, beginning to be loosed from its dungeon of 
flesh, looks behind it, and then directs its gaze into the future. 
It sees behind it that little stadium of mortal life, already tra- 
versed ; it sees before it the range of endless aeons. That flown 
moment which it has lived it perceives to be an instant ; it con- 
templates the infinite length of time to come." 3 

From Damiani's stricken thoughts upon the wickedness 
of the age, we may turn to the more personal disclosures of 
one who wrote himself Petrus peccator monachus. There 
is one tell-tale letter of confession to his brother Damianus, 
whom he loved and revered : 

" To my lord Damianus, my best loved brother, — Peter, 
sinner and monk, his servant and son. 

" I would not have it hid from thee, my sweetest father in 
Christ, that my mind is cast down with sadness while it con- 
templates its own exit which is so near. For I count my length 
of years, I note that my head is streaked with grey, and observe 
that in whatever assemblage I find myself nearly all are younger 

1 Opusc. xvii., De coelibatu ; Opusc. xviii., Contra intemperantes clericos ; 
Opusc. xxii., Contra clericos aulicos, etc. 

2 Lib. iv. Ep. 5 (Migne, Pat. Lat. 144, col. 300). 

3 Lib. v. Ep. 3 (Migne 144, col. 343). 


than myself. When I consider this, I ponder upon death alone, 
I meditate upon my tomb ; I do not withdraw the eyes of my 
mind from my tomb. Nor is my unhappy mind content to limit 
its fear and its consideration to the death of the body ; for it 
is at once haled to judgment, and meditates with terror upon 
what it may be reproached with and what may be its defence. 
Wretched me ! with what fountains of tears must I lament ! I who 
have done every evil, and through my long life have fulfilled 
scarce one commandment of the divine law. For what evil have 
not I, miserable man, committed ? Where are the vices, where 
are the crimes in which I am not implicated ; I confess my life 
has fallen in a lake of misery ; my soul is taken in its iniquities. 
Pride, lust, anger, impatience, malice, envy, gluttony, drunken- 
ness, concupiscence, robbery, lying, perjury, idle talking, scurrility, 
ignorance, negligence, and other pests have overthrown me, and 
all the vices like ravening beasts have devoured my soul. My 
heart and my lips are defiled. I am contaminate in sight, hearing, 
taste, smell, and touch. And in every way, in cogitation, in 
speech or action, I am lost. All these evils have I done ; and 
alas ! alas ! I have brought forth no fruit meet for repentance. 
" One pernicious fault, among others, I bewail : scurrility 
has been my besetting sin ; it has never really left me. For 
howsoever I have fought against this monster, and broken the 
wicked teeth of this beast with the hammer of austerity, and at 
times repelled it, I have never won the full victory. When, in the 
ways of spiritual gladness, I wish to show myself cheerful to the 
brethren, I drop into words of vanity ; and when as it were dis- 
creetly for the sake of brotherly love, I think to throw off my 
severity, then indiscreetly my tongue unbridled utters foolishness. 
If the Lord said : ' Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall 
be comforted,' what judgment hangs over those who not only 
are slack at weeping, but act like buffoons with laughter and vain 
giggling. Consolation is due to those who weep, not to those who 
rejoice ; what consolation may be expected from that future 
Judge by those who now give way to foolish mirth and vain 
jocularity ? If the Truth says : ' Woe unto ye who laugh now, 
for ye shall mourn and weep,' what shall they say upon that 
awful day of judgment who not only laugh themselves, but with 
scurrilities drag laughter from their listeners ? " 

The penitent saint then shows from Scripture how that 
our hearts ought to be vessels of tears, and concludes with 
casting himself at the feet of his beloved " father " in entreaty 
that he would interpose the shield of his holy prayers between 
his petitioner and that monster, and exorcise its serpentine 
poison, and also that he would ever pour forth prayers 


to God, and beseech the divine mercy in behalf of all the 
other vices confessed in this letter. 1 

A strange confession this — or, indeed, is it strange ? 
This cowled Peter Damiani who passes from community to 
community, seeing more keenly than others may, denounc- 
ing, execrating every vice existent or imagined, who wears 
haircloth, goes barefoot, lives on bread and water, scourges 
himself with daily flagellations, urging others to do likewise, 
— this Peter Damiani is yet unable quite to scourge out the 
human nature from him, and evidently cannot always re- 
frain from that jocularity and inepta laetitia for which the 
Abbess Hildegard also saw sundry souls in hell. 2 Perhaps, 
with Peter, revulsions from the strain of austerity took the 
form of sudden laughter. His imagination was fine, his wit 
too quick for his soul's safety. His confession was no matter 
of mock humility, nor did he deem laughter vulgar or in 
bad taste. He feared to imperil his soul through it. Of 
course, in accusing himself of other, and as we should think 
more serious crimes — drunkenness, robbery, perjury — Peter 
was merely carrying to an extreme the monkish conventions 
of self -vilification. 

If it appears from this letter that Damiani had been 
unable quite to scourge his wit out of him, another letter, 
to a young countess, will show more touchingly that he had 
been unable quite to fast out of him his human heart. 

" To Guilla, most illustrious countess, Peter, monk and sinner, 
[sends] the instancy of prayer. 

" Since of a thing out of which issues conflict it is better to 
have ignorance without cost, than with dear-bought forgetting 
wage hard war, we prudently accord to young women, whose 
aspect we fear, audience by letter. Certainly I, who now am an 
old man, may safely look upon the seared and wrinkled visage of 
a blear-eyed crone. Yet from sight of the more comely and 
adorned I guard my eyes like boys from fire. Alas my wretched 
heart which cannot hold Scriptural mysteries read through a 
hundred times, and will not lose the memory of a form seen but 
once ! There where the divine law has not remained, no oblivion 
blurs vanity's image. But of this another time. Here I have 

1 Lib. v. Ep. 2 (Migne 144, col. 340). Damiani's Rhythmus poenitentis monachi 
(Migne, Pat. Lot. 145, col. 971) expresses the passionate remorse of a sinful monk. 

2 Post, Chapter XX. 


not to write of what is hurtful to me but of what may be salutary 
for thee." 

Peter then continues with excellent advice for the young 
noblewoman, exhorting her to deeds of mercy and kindness, 
and warning her against the enjoyment of revenues wrung 
from the poor. 1 Indeed Damiani's writings contain much 
that still is wise. His advice to the great and noble of the 
world was admirable, 2 and though couched in austere phrase, 
it demanded what many men feel bound to fulfil in the 
twentieth century. His little work on Almsgiving 3 contains 
sentences which might be spoken to-day. He has been 
pointing out that no one can be exercising the ascetic virtues 
all the time : no one can be always praying and fasting, 
washing feet and subjecting the body to pain. Some 
people, moreover, shun such self-castigation. But one can 
always be benevolent ; and, though fearing to afflict the 
body, can stretch forth his hand in charity : " Those then 
who are rich are bidden to be dispensers rather than 
possessors. They ought not to regard what they have as 
their own : for they did not receive this transitory wealth in 
order to revel in luxury, or turn it to their private uses, but 
that they should administer it so long as they continue in 
their stewardship. Whoever gives to the poor does not 
distribute his own but restores another's." 4 

This sounds modern — it also sounds like Seneca. 5 Yet 
Damiani was no modern man, nor was he antique, but very 
fearful of the classics. Having been a rhetorician and 
grammarian, when he became a hermit-monk he made 

1 Lib. vii. Ep. 18 (Migne 144, col. 458). 

2 Much is contained in the eighth book of his letters. The third letter of 
this book is addressed to a nobleman who did not treat his mother as Peter would 
have had him. The whole family situation is given in two sentences : " But you 
may say : ' My mother exasperates me often, and with her rasping words worries 
me and my wife. We cannot endure such reproaches, nor tolerate the burden of 
her severity and interference.' But for this, your reward will be the richer, if you 
return gentleness for contumely, and mollify her with humility when you are 
sprinkled with the salt of her abuse" (Migne, Pat. Lat. 144, col. 467). Some sentences 
from this letter are given post, Chapter XXXII., as examples of Latin style. 

The next letter is addressed to the same nobleman and his wife on the death 
of their son. It gently points out to them that his migration to the coelestia regna, 
where among the angels he has put on the garment of immortality, is cause for joy. 

3 Opusc. ix., De eleemosyna (Migne 145, col. 207 sqq.). 

* Opusc. ix., De eleemosyna, cap. i. 

5 Seneca, De vita beata, 20. 


Christ his grammar (mea grammatica Christus est). 1 Horror- 
stricken at the world, and writhing under his own contamina- 
tion, he cast body and soul into the ascetic life. That was 
the harbour of escape from the carnal temptations which 
threatened the soul's hope of pardon from the Judge at the 
Last Day. Therefore Peter is fierce in execration of all 
lapses from the hermit-life, so rapturously praised with its 
contrition, its penitence, and tears. His ascetic rhap- 
sodies, with which, as a poet might, he delighted or 
relieved his soul, are eloquent illustrations of the monastic 
ideal. 2 

Other men in Italy less intelligent than Damiani, but 
equally picturesque, were held by like ascetic and emotional 
obsession. Intellectual interest, however, in theology was 
less prominent, because the Italian concern with religion was 
either emotional or ecclesiastical, which is to say, political. 
The philosophic or dialectical treatment of the Faith was to 
run its course north of the Alps ; and those men of Italian 
birth — Anselm, Peter Lombard, Bonaventura, and Aquinas 
— who contributed to Christian thought, early left their 
native land, and accomplished their careers under intellectual 
conditions which did not obtain in Italy. Nevertheless, 
Anselm and Bonaventura at least did not lose their Italian 
qualities ; and it is as representative of what might come 
out of Italy in the eleventh century that the former may 
detain us here. 

The story of Anselm is told well and lovingly by his 
companion Eadmer. 3 His life, although it was drawn within 
the currents of affairs, remained intellectual and aloof, a 
meditation upon God. It opens with a dream of climbing 
the mountain to God's palace-seat. For Anselm's boyhood 
was passed at Aosta, within the shadows of the Graian 
Alps. 4 Surely the heaven rested upon them. Might he 
not then go up to the hall where God, above in the heaven, 
as the boy's mother taught, ruled and held all ? 

1 Lib. viii. Ep. 8 (Migne, Pat. Lat. 144, col. 476). Cf. ante, p. 261. 

2 Extracts will be given post, Chapter XVII., together with Damiani's remark- 
able Life of Romuald. 

3 Migne 158, col. 50 sqq. 

* Anselm was born in 1033 and died in 1109. His works are in Migne 158, 159. 
See also Domet de Vorges, S. Anselme (Les grands Philosophes, 190 1). 


" So one night it seemed he must ascend to the summit of the 
mountains, and go to the hall of the great King. In the plain at 
the first slopes, he saw women, the servants of the King, reaping 
grain carelessly and idly. He would accuse them to their Lord. 
He went up across the summit and came to the King's hall. He 
found Him there alone with His seneschal, for it was autumn and 
He had sent His servants to gather the harvest. The Lord called 
the boy as he entered ; and he went and sat at His feet. The Lord 
asked kindly (jucunda affabilitate) whence he came and what he 
wished. He replied just as he knew the thing to be (juxta quod 
rem esse sciebat). Then, at the Lord's command, the Seneschal 
brought him bread of the whitest, and he was there refreshed in 
His presence. In the morning he verily believed that he had been 
in Heaven and had been refreshed with the bread of the Lord." 

A pious mother had been the boy's first teacher. 
Others taught him Letters, till he became proficient, and 
beloved by those who knew him. He wished to be made a 
monk, but a neighbouring abbot refused his request, fearing 
the displeasure of Anselm's father, of whom the biographer 
has nothing good to say. The youth fell sick, but with 
returning health the joy of living drew his mind from study 
and his pious purpose. Love for his mother held him from 
over-indulgence in pastimes. She died, and with this sheet- 
anchor lost, Anselm's ship was near to drifting out on the 
world's slippery flood. Here the impossible temper of the 
father wrought as God's providence, and Anselm, unable 
to stay with him, left his home, and set out across Mount 
Senis attended by one clericus. For three years he moved 
through Burgundy and Francia, till Lanfranc's repute drew 
him to Bee. Day and night he studied beneath that master, 
and also taught. The desire to be a monk returned ; and 
he began to direct his purpose toward pleasing God and 
spurning the world. 

But where ? At either Cluny or Bee he feared to lose 
the fruit of his studies ; for at Cluny there was the strictness 
of the rule, 1 and at Bee Lanfranc's eminent learning would 
" make mine of little value." Anselm says that he was not 
yet subdued, nor had the contempt of the world become 
strong in him. Then the thought came : "Is this to be a 
monk to wish to be set before others and magnified above 

1 " Districtio ordinis," Vita, i. 6. This indicates that liberal studies were 
not favoured in Cluny at this time, cir. 1060. 


them ? Nay, — become a monk where, for the sake of God, 
you will be put after all and be held viler than all. And 
where can this be ? Surely at Bee. I shall be of no weight 
while he is here, whose wisdom and repute are enough for all. 
Here then is my rest, here God alone will be my purpose, 
here the single love of Him will be my thought, and 
here the constant remembrance of Him will be a happy 

Scripture bade him : Do all things with counsel. Whom 
but Lanfranc should he consult ? So he laid three plans 
before him — to become a monk, a hermit, or (his father 
being dead) for the sake of God administer his patrimony 
for the poor. Lanfranc persuaded Anselm to refer the 
decision to the venerable Archbishop of Rouen. Together 
they went to him, and such, says the biographer, was 
Anselm's reverence for Lanfranc, that on the way, passing 
through the wood near Bee, had Lanfranc bade him stay in 
that wood, he would not have left it all his days. 

The archbishop decided for the monastic life. So 
Anselm took the vows of a monk at Bee, being twenty- 
seven years of age. Lanfranc was then Prior, but soon left 
to become Abbot of St. Stephen's at Caen. 1 Made Prior in 
his place, Anselm devoted himself in gentleness and wisdom 
to the care of the monks and to meditation upon God and 
the divine truths. He was especially considerate of the 
younger monks, whose waywardness he guided and whose 
love he won. The envy of cavillers was stilled. Yet the 
business of office harassed one whose thoughts dwelled more 
gladly in the blue heaven with God. Again he sought the 
counsel of the archbishop ; for Herluin, the first Abbot and 
founder of Bee, still lived on, old and unlettered, and 
apparently no great fount of wisdom. The archbishop 
commanded him per sanctam obedientiam not to renounce his 
office, nor refuse if called to a higher one. So, sad but 
resolute, he returned to the convent, and resumed his 
burdens in such wise as to be held by all as a loved father. 
It was at this period that he wrote several treatises upon the 
high doctrinal themes which filled his thoughts. Gradually 

1 In a convent where there is an abbot, the prior is the officer directly under 


his mind settled to the search after some single proof of that 
which is believed concerning God — that He exists, and is 
eternal, unchanging, omnipotent, just, and pitying, and is 
truth and goodness. This thing caused him great difficulty. 
Not only it kept him from food and drink and sleep, but 
what weighed upon him more, it interfered with his devotion 
to God's service. Reflecting thus, and unable to reach a 
valid conclusion, he .decided that such speculation was a 
temptation of the devil, and tried to drive it from his 
thoughts. But the more he struggled, the more it beset 
him. And one night, at the time of the nocturnal vigils, the 
grace of God shed light in his heart, and the argument was 
clear to his mind, and filled his inmost being with an 
immense jubilation. All the more now was he confirmed 
in the love of God and the contempt of the world, of which 
one night he had a vision as of a torrent filled with obscene 
filth, and carrying in its flood the countless host of people 
of the world, while apart and aloof from its slime rose the 
sweet cloister, with its walls of silver, surrounded by silvery 
herbage, all delectable beyond conception. 

In the year 1078 old Herluin died. Anselm long had 
guided the convent, and with one voice the brethren chose 
him Abbot. He reasoned and argued, but could not dis- 
suade them, and in his anxiety he knew not what to do. 
Some days passed. He had recourse to entreaties ; with 
tears he flung himself prostrate before them all, praying and 
protesting in the name of God, and beseeching them, if they 
had any bowels of compassion, to permit him to remain free 
from this great burden. But they only cast themselves 
upon the earth, and prayed that he would rather com- 
miserate them, and not disregard the convent's good. At 
length he yielded, for the command of the archbishop came 
to his mind. Such a scene occurs often in monastic history. 
None the less is it moving when the participants are in 
earnest, as Anselm was, and his monks. 

So Anselm's life opened ; so it sought counsel, gathered 
strength, and centred to its purpose, pursuing as its goal the 
thought of God. Anselm had love and gentleness for his 
fellows ; he drew their love and reverence. Yet, aloof, he 
lived within his spirit. Did he open its hidden places even 

vol. I T 


to Lanfranc ? Although one who in his humility always 
desired counsel, perhaps neither Lanfranc nor Eadmer, the 
friend whom the Pope gave him for an adviser, knew the 
meditations of his heart. We at all events should discern 
little of them by following the outer story of his life. It 
might even be fruitless to sail with him across the Channel 
to visit Lanfranc, now Primate of England. The biographer 
has little that is important to tell of the converse between 
the two, although quite rightly impressed at the meeting 
between him who was pre-eminent in auctoritas and scientia 
and him who excelled in sanctitas and sapientia Dei. 1 Nor 
would it enlighten us to follow Anselm's archiepiscopal 
career, save so far as to realize that he who lives in the 
thought of God will fear no brutal earthly majesty, such as 
that of William Rufus, to admonish whom Anselm once more 
crossed the Channel after Lanfranc's death. Whatever this 
despoiler of bishoprics then thought, he fell sick afterwards, 
and, being terrified, named Anselm archbishop, this being in 
the year 1093. One may imagine the unison between them ! 
and how little the Red King's ways would turn the enskied 
steadfastness of Anselm's soul. But the king had the power, 
and could keep the archbishop in trouble and in peril. 
Anselm asked and asked again for leave to go to Rome, and 
the king refused. After more than one stormy scene — the 
storm being always on the Red King's part — Anselm made 
it plain that he would obey God rather than man in the 
matter. At the very last he went in to the king and his 
Court, and seating himself quietly at the king's right he 
said : " I, my lord, shall go, as I have determined. But 
first, if you do not decline it, I will give you my blessing." 
So the king acquiesced. 

The archbishop went first to Canterbury, to comfort 
and strengthen his monks, and spoke to them assembled 
together : 

" Dearly beloved brothers and sons, I am, as you know, about 
to leave this kingdom. The contention with our lord the king 
as to Christian discipline, has reached this pass that I must either 

1 In the Vita, i. 30, Anselm and Lanfranc discuss the title of a certain beatified 
Aelfegus to veneration as a saint. 


do what is contrary to God and my own honour, or leave the realm. 
Gladly I go, hoping through the mercy of God that my journey 
may advance the Church's liberty hereafter. I am moved to 
pity you, upon whom greater tribulations will come in my absence. 
Even with me here you have not been unoppressed, yet I think 
I have given you more peace than you have had since the death 
of our Father Lanfranc. I think those who molest you will rage 
the more with me away. You, however, are not undisciplined 
in the school of the Lord. Nevertheless I will say something, 
because, since you have come together within the close of this 
monastery to fight for God, you should always have before your 
eyes how you should fight. 

" All retainers do not fight in the same way either for an earthly 
prince, or for God whose are all things that are. The angels 
established in eternal beatitude wait upon Him. He has also 
men who serve Him for earthly benefits, like hired knights. He 
has also some who, cleaving to His will, contend to reach the 
kingdom of heaven, which they have forfeited through Adam's 
fault. Observe the knights who are in God's pay. Many you 
see leading a secular life and cleaving to the household of God 
for the good things which they gain in His service. But when, 
by God's judgment, trial comes to them, and disaster, they fly 
from His love and accuse Him of injustice. We monks — would 
that we were such as not to be like them ! For those who cannot 
stand to their professed purpose unless they have all things com- 
fortable, and do not wish to suffer destitution for God, how shall 
they not be held like to these ? And shall such be heirs of the 
kingdom of heaven ? Faithfully I say, No, never, unless they 

' He who truly contends toward recovering the kingdom of 
life, strives to cleave to God through all ; no adversity draws him 
from God's service, no pleasure lures him from the love of Him. 
Per dura et aspera he treads the way of His commands, and from 
hope of the reward to come, his heart is aflame with the ardour 
of love, and sings with the Psalmist, Great is the glory of the Lord. 
Which glory he tastes in this pilgrimage, and tasting, he desires, 
and desiring, salutes as from afar. Supported by the hope of 
attaining, he is consoled amid the perils of the world and gladly 
sings, Great is the glory of the Lord. Know that this one will 
in no way be defrauded of that glory of the Lord, since all that 
is in him serves the Lord, and is directed to winning this reward. 
But I see that there is no need to say to you another word. My 
brothers, since we are separated now in grief, I beseech you so 
to strive that hereafter we may be united joyfully before God 
Be ye those who truly wish to be made heirs of God." 


The clarity and gentle love of this high argument is 
Anselm. Now the story follows of Anselm and Eadmer and 
another monk travelling on, sometimes unknown, sometimes 
acclaimed, through France to Italy and Rome. Anselm's 
face inspired reverence in those who did not know him, and 
the peace of his countenance attracted even Saracens. Had 
he been born and bred in England, he might have managed 
better with the Red King. He never got an English point 
of view, but remained a Churchman with Italian-Hilde- 
brandine convictions. Of course, two policies were clashing 
then in England, where it happened that there was on one side 
an able and rapacious tyrant, while the other was represented 
by a man with the countenance and temperament of an 
angel. But we may leave Anselm now in Italy, where 
he is beyond the Red King's molestation, and turn to his 

Their choice and treatment of subject was partly guided 
by the needs of his pupils and friends at Bee and elsewhere 
in Normandy or Francia or England. For he wrote much 
at their solicitation ; and the theological problems of which 
solutions were requested, suggest the intellectual temper of 
those regions, rather than of Italy. In a way Anselm's 
works, treating of separate and selected Christian questions, 
are a proper continuation of those composed by northern 
theologians in the ninth century on Predestination and the 
Eucharist. 1 Only Anselm's were not evoked by the exigency 
of actual controversy as much as by the insistency of the 
eleventh-century mind, and the need it felt of some ad- 
justment regarding certain problems. Anselm's theological 
and philosophic consciousness is clear "and confident. His 
faculties are formative and creative, quite different from the 
compiling instincts of Alcuin or Rabanus. The matter of 
his argument has become his own ; it has been remade in 
his thinking, and is presented as from himself — and God. 
He no longer conceives himself as one searching through the 
" pantries " of the Fathers or culling the choice flowers of 
their " meadows." He will set forth the matter as God has 
deigned to disclose it to him. In the Cur Deus homo he 
begins by saying that he has been urged by many, verbally 

1 Ante, Chapter X. 


and by letter, to consider the reasons why God became 
man and suffered, and then, assenting, says : " Although, 
from the holy Fathers on, what should suffice has been 
said, yet concerning this question I will endeavour to set 
forth for my inquirers what God shall deign to disclose 
to me." * 

Certain works of Anselm, the Monologion, for instance (as 
demanded by its topic), present the dry and the formal 
method of reasoning which was to make its chief home in 
France ; others, like the Proslogion, seem to be Italian in a 
certain beautiful emotionalism. The feeling is very lofty, 
even lifted out of the human, very skyey, even. The Pros- 
logion, the Meditationes, do not throb with the red blood of 
Augustine's Confessions, the writing which influenced them 
most. The quality of their feeling suggests rather Dante's 
Paradiso ; and sometimes with Anselm a sense of formal 
beauty and perfection seems to disclose the mind of Italy. 
Moreover, Anselm's Latin style appears Italian. It is 
elastic, even apparently idiomatic, and varies with the 
temper and character of his different works. Throughout, it 
shows in Latin the fluency and simple word-order natural to 
an author whose vulgaris eloquentia was even closer to Latin 
in the time of Anselm than when Dante wrote. 

So Anselm's writings were intimately part of their 
author, and very part of his life-long meditation upon God. 
Led by the solicitations of others, as well as impelled by 
the needs of his own faculties and nature, he takes up one 
Christian problem after another, and sets forth his under- 
standing of it with his conclusion. He is devout, an 
absolute believer ; and he is wonderfully metaphysical. He 
is a beautiful, a sublimated, and idealizing reasoner, con- 
vinced that a divine reality must exist in correspondence 
with his thought, which projects itself aloft to evoke from the 
blue an answering reality. The inspiration, the radiating 
point of Anselm's intellectual interest, is clearly given — to 
understand that which he first believes. It is a spontaneous 
intellectual interest, not altogether springing from a desire 
to know how to be saved. It does not seek to understand 
in order to believe ; but seeks the happiness of knowing 

1 Cur Deus homo, i. i (Migne, Pat. Lat. 158, col. 361). 


and understanding that which it believes and loves. Listen 
to some sentences from the opening of the Proslogion : 

" Come now, mannikin, flee thy occupations for a little, and 
hide from the confusion of thy cares. Be vacant a little while 
for God, and for a little rest in Him. . . . Now, O Lord my God, 
teach my heart where and how to seek thee, where and how to 
find thee. Lord, Lord, illuminate us ; show us thyself. Pity 
us labouring toward thee, impotent without thee. . . . Teach 
me to seek thee, and show thyself to my search ; for I cannot 
seek thee unless thou dost teach, nor find thee unless thou dost 
show thyself. ... I make no attempt, Lord, to penetrate thy 
depths, for my intellect has no such reach ; but I desire to under- 
stand some measure of thy truth, which my heart believes and 
loves. I do not seek to know in order that I may believe ; but 
I believe, that I may know. For I believe this also, that unless 
I shall have believed, I shall not understand." 1 

So Anselm is first a believer, then a theologian ; and 
his reason devotes itself to the elucidation of his faith. 
Faith prescribes his intellectual interests, and sets their 
bounds. His thought does not occupy itself with matters 
beyond. But it takes a pure intellectual delight in reasoning 
upon the God which his faith presents and his heart cleaves 
to. The motive is the intellectual and loving delight 
which his mind takes in this pursuit. His faith was 
sure and undisturbed, and ample for his salvation. His 
intellect, affected by no motive beyond its own strength 
and joy, delights in reasoning upon the matter of his 
faith. 2 " 

We may still linger for a moment to observe how closely 
part of Anselm's nature was his proof of the existence of 

1 In the Cur Deus homo, i. 2, Anselm has his approved disciple state the same 
point of view : " As the right order prescribes that we should believe the pro- 
fundities of the Christian Faith, before presuming to discuss them rationally, so 
it seems to me neglect if after we are confirmed in faith we do not study to under- 
stand what we believe. Wherefore, since by the prevenient grace of God, I deem 
myself to hold the faith of our redemption, so that even if I could by no reason 
comprehend what I believe, there is nothing that could pluck me from it, I ask 
from thee, as many ask, that thou wouldst set forth to me, as thou knowest it, 
by what necessity and reason, God, being omnipotent, should have assumed the 
humility and weakness of human nature for its restoration." 

2 There is indeed an early treatise, De grammatico (Migne 158, col. 561-581), 
in which Anselm seems to abandon himself to dialectic concerned with an academic 
topic. The question is whether grammaticus, a grammarian, is to be subsumed 
under the category of substance or quality ; dialectically is a grammarian a 
man or an incident ? 


God. 1 It sprang directly from his saintly soul and the 
compelling idealism of his reason. In the Monologion 
Anselm ranged his many arguments concerning the nature 
and attributes of the summum bonum which is God. Its 
chain of inductions failed to satisfy him and his pupils. So 
he set his mind to seek a sole and unconditioned proof 
(as Eadmer states in the Vita) of God's existence and the 
attributes which faith ascribes to Him. Anselm says the 
same in the Preface to the Proslogion : 

" Considering that the prior work was woven out of a con- 
catenation of many arguments, I set to seek within myself (mecum) 
whether I might not discover one argument which needed nothing 
else than itself alone for its proof ; and which by itself might 
suffice to show that God truly exists, and that He is the summum 
bonum needing nothing else, but needed by all things in order 
that they may exist and have well-being (ut sint et bene sint) ; 
and whatever we believe concerning the divine substance." 

The famous proof which at length flashed upon him is 
substantially this : By very definition the word God means 
the greatest conceivable being. This conception exists even 
in the atheist's mind, for he knows what is meant by the 
words, the absolutely greatest. But the greatest cannot be 
in the intellect alone, for then conceivably there would be 
a greater which would exist in reality as well. And since, 
by definition, God is the absolutely greatest, He must exist 
in reality as well as in the mind. 2 Carrying out the scholia 
to this argument, Anselm then proves that God possesses 
the various attributes ascribed to Him by the Christian Faith. 

That from a definition one may not infer the existence 
of the thing defined, was pointed out by a certain monk 
Gaunilo almost as soon as the Proslogion appeared. Anselm 
answered him that the argument applied only to the greatest 
conceivable being. Since that time Anselm's proof has 
been upheld and disproved many times. It was at all 
events a great dialectic leap ; but likely one may not with 
such a bound cross the chasm from definition to existence — 

1 Cf . Kaulich, Ges. der scholastischen Philosophic, i. 293-332 ; Haureau, Histoire 
de la philosophic scholastique, i. 242-288 ; Stockl, Philosophic des Mittclalters, i. 
151-208 ; De Wulf, History of Medieval Philosophy, 3rd ed. (Longmans, 1909), 
p. 162 sqq., and authorities. 

2 The locus classicus is Proslogion, cap. 2. 


at least one will be less bold to try when he realizes that 
this chasm is there. Temperamentally, at least, this proof 
was the summit of Anselm's idealism : he could not but 
conceive things to exist in correspondence to the demands 
of his conceptions. He never made another so palpable 
leap from conception to conviction as in this proof of God's 
existence ; yet his theology proceeded through like processes 
of thought. For example, he is sure of God's omnipotence, 
and also sure that God can do nothing which would detract 
from the perfection of His nature : God cannot lie : " For it 
does not follow, if God wills to lie that it is just to lie ; but 
rather that He is not God. For only that will can will to 
lie in which truth is corrupted,, or rather which is corrupted 
by forsaking truth. Therefore when one says ' if God wills 
to lie,' he says in substance, ' if God is of such a nature as 
to will to lie.' " 1 

Anselm's other famous work was the Cur Deus homo, 
upon the problem why God became man to redeem mankind. 
It was connected with his view of sin, and the fall of the 
angels, as set forth chiefly in his dialogue De casu Diaboli. 
One may note certain cardinal points in his exposition : 
Man could be redeemed only by God ; for he would have 
been the bond-servant of whoever redeemed him, and to 
have been the servant of any one except God would not have 
restored him to the dignity which would have been his had 
he not sinned. 2 Or again : The devil had no rights over 
man, which he lost by unjustly slaying God. For man was 
not the devil's, nor does the devil belong to himself but to 
God. 3 Evidently Anselm frees himself from the conception 
of any ranson paid to the devil, or any trickery put on 
him — thoughts which had lowered current views of the 
Atonement. Anselm's arguments (which are too large, and 
too interwoven with his views upon connected subjects, to 
be done justice to by any casual statement) are free from 
degrading foolishness. His reasonings were deeply felt, as 
one may see in his Meditationes, where thought and feeling 
mutually support and enhance each other. So he recalls 
Augustine, the great model and predecessor whom he 
followed and revered. And still the feeling in Anselm's 

1 Cur Deus homo, i. 12. 2 Ibid. i. 5. 3 Ibid. i. 7. 


Meditationes, as in the Proslogion, is somewhat sublimated 
and lifted above human heart-throbs. Perhaps it may seem 
rhetorical, and intentionally stimulated in order to edify. 
Even in the Meditationes upon the humanity and passion of 
Jesus, Anselm is not very close to the quivering tenderness 
of St. Bernard, and very far from the impulsive and 
passionate love of Francis of Assisi. One thinks that his 
feelings rarely distorted his countenance or wet it with tears. 1 

1 Examples of Anselm's prose are given post, Chapter XXXII. On Anselm's 
position in scholasticism and his scholastic method, see Grabmann, Ges. der 
scholastischen Methode, Bd. I. p. 265 sqq. (1909- ). 



I. Gerbert. 
II. Odilo OF Cluny. 


IV. Berengar of Tours, Roscellin, and the coming 


It appeared in the last chapter that Anselm's choice of 
topic was not uninfluenced by his northern domicile at Bee 
in Normandy., from which, one may add, it was no far cry 
to the monastery (Marmoutier) of Anselm's sharp critic 
Gaunilo. These places lay within the confines of central 
and northern^ France, the home of the most originative 
mediaeval development. For this region, the renewed studies 
of the Carolingian period were the proper antecedents of 
the efforts of the eleventh century. The topics of study 
still remained substantially the same ; yet the later time 
represents a further stage in the appropriation of the antique 
and patristic material, and its productions show the genius 
of the authors more clearly than Carolingian writings, 
which were taken piecemeal from patristic sources or made 
of borrowed antique phrase. 

The difference is seen in the personality and writings of 
Gerbert of Aurillac, 1 the man who with such intellectual 

1 On Gerbert see Lettres de Gerbert publiies avec une introduction, etc., par Julien 
Havet (Paris : Picard, 1889 ; I have cited them according to this edition) ; 
CEuvres de Gerbert, ed. by Olleris (Clermont and Paris, 1867) ; also in Migne, 
Pat. hat. 139 ; Richerus, Historiarum libri IV. (especially lib. iii. cap. 55 sqq.) ; 
Mon. Germ, script, iii. 56r sqq. ; Migne, Pat. Lot. 138, col. 17 sqq. Also Picavet, 
Gerbert, un pape philosophe (Paris : Leroux, 1897) ; Cantor, Ges. der Mathematik, 
i. 728-751 (Leipzig, 1880) ; Prantl, Ges. der Logik, ii. 53-57 (Leipzig, 1861). 



catholicity opens the story of this period. One will be 
struck with the apparently arid crudity of his intellectual 
processes. Crude they were, and of necessity ; arid they 
were not, being an unavoidable stage in the progress of 
mediaeval thinking. Yet it is a touch of fate's irony that 
such an interesting personality should have been afflicted 
with them. For Gerbert was the redeeming intellect of the 
last part of the tenth century. The cravings of his mind 
compassed the intellectual predilections of his contem- 
poraries. Secular and by no means priestly they appear 
in him ; and it is clear that religious motives did not 
dominate this extraordinary individual who was reared 
among monks, became Abbot of Bobbio, Archbishop of 
Rheims, Archbishop of Ravenna, and pope at last. 

He appears to have been born shortly before the year 
950. From the ignorance in which we are left as to his 
parents and the exact place of his birth in Aquitaine, it may 
be inferred that his origin was humble. While still a boy 
he was received into the Benedictine monastery of St. 
Geraldus at Aurillac in Auvergne. There he studied 
grammar (in the extended mediaeval sense), under a monk 
named Raymund, and grew to love the classics. A loyal 
affectionateness was a life-long trait of Gerbert, and more 
than one letter in after life bears witness to the love which 
he never ceased to feel for the monks of Aurillac among 
whom his youthful years were passed, and especially for 
this brother Raymund from whom he received his first 

Raymund afterwards became abbot of the convent. 
But it was his predecessor, Gerald, who had received the 
boy Gerbert, and was still to do something of moment in 
directing his career. A certain duke of the Spanish 
March came on a pilgrimage to Aurillac ; and Gerald 
besought him to take Gerbert back with him to Spain for 
such further instruction as the convent did not afford. The 
duke departed, taking Gerbert, and placed him under the 
tuition of the Bishop of Vich, a town near Barcelona. Here 
he studied mathematics. The tradition that he travelled 
through Spain and learned from the Arabs lacks prob- 
ability. But in the course of time the duke and bishop set 


forth to pray for sundry material objects at the fountain- 
head of Catholicism, and took their protege with them to 

In Rome, Gerbert's destiny advanced apace. His 
patrons, doubtless proud of their young scholar, introduced 
him to the Pope, John XIII., who also was impressed by 
Gerbert's personality and learning. John told his own 
protector, the great Otto, and informed him of Gerbert's 
ability to teach mathematics ; and the two kept Gerbert in 
Rome, when the Spanish duke and bishop returned to their 
country. Gerbert began to teach, and either at this time or 
later had among his pupils the young Augustus, Otto II. 
But he was more anxious to study logic than to teach 
mathematics, even under imperial favour. He persuaded 
the old emperor to let him go to Rheims with a certain 
archdeacon from that place, who was skilled in the science 
which he lacked. The emperor dismissed him, with a 
liberal hand. In his new home Gerbert rapidly mastered 
logic, and impressed all with his genius. He won the love 
of the archbishop, Adalberon, who soon set the now triply 
accomplished scholar at the head of the episcopal school. 
Gerbert's education was complete, in letters, in mathematics 
including music, and in logic. Thenceforth for ten years 
(972-982), the happiest of his life, he studied and also 
taught the whole range of academic knowledge. 

Fortune, not altogether kind, bestowed on Gerbert the 
favour of three emperors. The graciousness of the first 
Otto had enabled him to proceed to Rheims. The second 
Otto listened to his teaching, admired the teacher, and early 
in the year 983 made him Abbot and Count of Bobbio. 
Long afterwards the third Otto made him Archbishop of 
Ravenna, and then pope. 

Bobbio, the chief foundation of Columbanus, situated not 
far from Genoa, was powerful and rich ; but its vast 
possessions, scattered throughout Italy, had been squandered 
by worthless abbots or seized by lawless nobles. The new 
count-abbot, eager to fulfil the ecclesiastical and feudal 
functions of his position, strove to reclaim the monastery's 
property and bring back its monks to decency and learning. 
In vain. Now, as more than once in Gerbert's later life, 


brute circumstances proved too strong. Otto died. Gerbert 
was unsupported. He struggled and wrote many letters 
which serve to set forth the situation for us, though they 
did not win the battle for their writer : 

" According to the largeness of my mind, my lord (Otto II.) 
has enriched me with most ample honours. For what part of 
Italy does not hold the possessions of the blessed Columbanus ? 
So should this be, from the generosity and benevolence of our 
Caesar. Fortune, indeed, ordains it otherwise. Forsooth ac- 
cording to the largeness of my mind she has loaded me with most 
ample store of enemies. For what part of Italy has not my 
enemies ? My strength is unequal to the strength of Italy ! 
There is peace on this condition : if I, despoiled, submit, they 
cease to strike ; intractable in my vested rights, they attack 
with the sword. When they do not strike with the sword, they 
thrust with javelins of words." x 

Within a year Gerbert gave up the struggle at Bobbio, 
and returned to Rheims to resume his duties as head of 
the school, and secretary and intimate adviser of Adal- 
beron. Politically the time was one of uncertainty and 
turmoil. The Carolingian house was crumbling, and the 
house of Capet was scheming and struggling on to a royalty 
scarcely more considerable. In Germany intrigue and revolt 
threatened the rights of the child Otto III. Archbishop 
Adalberon, guided by Gerbert, was a powerful factor in 
the dynastic change in France ; and the two were zealous 
for Otto. Throughout these troubles Gerbert constantly 
appears, directing projected measures and divining courses 
of events, yet somehow, in spite of his unmatched intelli- 
gence, failing to control them. 

Time passed, and Adalberon died at the beginning of 
the year 989. His successor, Arnulf, a scion of the falling 
Carolingian house, was subsequently unseated for treason to 
the new-sprung house of Capet. In 991 Gerbert himself 
was made archbishop. But although seeming to reach his 
longed-for goal, troubles redoubled on his head. There was 
rage at the choice of one so lowly born for the princely 
dignity. The storm gathered around the new archbishop, 
and the See of Rome was moved to interfere, which it did 
gladly, since at Rome Gerbert was hated for the reproaches 

1 Ep. 12. 


cast upon its ignorance and corruption by bishops at the 
council which elected him and deposed his predecessor. In 
that deposition and election Rome had not acquiesced ; and 
we read the words of the papal legate : 

" The acts of your synod against Arnulf, or rather against the 
Roman Church, astound me with their insults and blasphemies. 
Truly is the word of the Gospel fulfilled in you, ' There shall be 
many anti-Christs.' . . . Your anti-Christs say that Rome is as a 
temple of idols, an image of stone. Because the vicars of Peter 
and their disciples will not have as master Plato, Virgil, Terence or 
the rest of the herd of Philosophers, ye say they are not worthy to 
be door-keepers — because they have no part in such song." 1 

The battle went against Gerbert. Interdicted from 
his archiepiscopal functions, he left France for the Court 
of Otto III., where his intellect at once dominated the 
aspirations of the young monarch. Otto and Gerbert went 
together to Italy, and the emperor made his friend 
Archbishop of Ravenna. The next year, 999, Gregory V. 
died, and the archbishop became Pope Sylvester II. For 
three short years the glorious young imperial dreamer and 
his peerless counsellor planned and wrought for a great 
united Empire and Papacy on earth. Then death took first 
the emperor and soon afterwards the pope-philosopher. 

Gerbert was the first mind of his time, its greatest 
teacher, its most eager learner, and most universal scholar. 
His pregnant letters reflect a finished man who has mastered 
his acquired knowledge and transformed it into power. 
They also evince the authorship of one who had uniquely 
profited from the power and spirit of the great minds of the 
pagan past, had imbibed their sense of form and pertinency, 
and with them had become self-contained and self-controlled, 
master of himself and of all that had entered in and made 
him what he was. Notice how the personality of the writer, 
with his capacities, tastes, and temperament, is unfolded 
before us in a letter to a close friend, abbot of a monastery 
at Tours : 

" Since you hold my memory in honour, and in virtue of 
relationship declare great friendship, I deem that I shall be happy 
for your opinion, if only I am one who in the judgment of so great 

1 Mon. Germ, scriptores. iii. 686. 


a man is found worthy to be loved. But since I am not one who, 
with Panetius, would sometimes separate the good from the useful, 
but rather with Tully would mingle it with everything useful, I 
wish these best and holiest friendships never to be void of re- 
ciprocal utility. And as morality and the art of speech are not 
to be severed from philosophy, I have always joined the study of 
speaking well with the study of living well. For although by 
itself living well may be nobler than speaking well, and may 
suffice without its fellow for one absolved from the direction of 
affairs ; yet for us, busied with the State, both are needed. 
For it is of the greatest utility to speak appositely when persuad- 
ing, and with mild discourse check the fury of angry men. In 
preparing for such business, I am eagerly collecting a library ; 
and as formerly at Rome and elsewhere in Italy, so likewise in 
Germany and Belgium, I have obtained copyists and manu- 
scripts with a mass of money, and the help of friends in those 
parts. Permit me likewise to beg of you also to promote this 
end. We will append at the end of this letter a list of those 
writers we wish copied. We have sent for your disposal parch- 
ment for the scribes and money to defray the cost, not unmind- 
ful of your goodness. Finally, lest by saying more we should 
abuse epistolary convenances, the cause of so much trouble is 
contempt of faithless fortune ; a contempt which not nature alone 
has given to us — as to many men — but careful study. Conse- 
quently when at leisure and when busied in affairs, we teach 
what we know, and learn where we are ignorant." 1 

Gerbert's letters are concise, even elliptical to the verge 
of obscurity. He discloses himself in a few words to 
his old friend Raymund at the monastery of Aurillac : 
" With what love we are bound to you, the Latins know and 
also the barbarians, 2 who share the fruit of our studies. 
Their vows demand your presence. Amid public cares 
philosophy is the sole solace ; and from her study we have 
often been the gainer, when in this stormy time we have thus 
broken the attack of fortune raging grievously against others 
or ourselves. . . ." 3 

Save for the language, one might fancy Cicero speaking 
to some friend, and not the future pope of the year 1000 to 
a monk. The sentiment is quite antique. And Gerbert 
not only uses antique phrase but is touched, like many a 

1 Ep. 44. 

2 Presumably Gerbert's German-speaking scholars are meant. 

3 Ep, 45, Raimundo monacho. 


mediaeval man, with the antique spirit. In another letter 
he writes of friendship, and queries whether the divinity has 
given anything better to mortals. He refers to his prospects, 
and remarks : " sed involvit mundum caeca fortuna," and 
he is not certain whither it will cast him. 1 

Doubtless such antique sentiments were a matter of 
mood with Gerbert ; he can readily express others of a 
Christian colour, and turn again to still other topics very 
readily, as in the following letter — a curious one. It is to a 
monk : 

" Think not, sweetest brother, that it is through my fault I lack 
my brethren's society. After leaving thee, I had to undertake 
many journeys in the business of my father Columbanus. 2 The 
ambitions of the powers, the hard and wretched times, turn right 
to wrong. No one keeps faith. Yet since I know that all things 
hang on the decree of God, who changes both hearts and the 
kingdoms of the sons of men, I patiently await the end of things. 
I admonish and exhort thee, brother, to do the same. In the 
meanwhile one thing I beg, which may be accomplished without 
danger or loss to thee, and will make me thy friend forever. Thou 
knowest with what zeal I gather books everywhere, and thou 
knowest how many scribes there are in Italy, in town and country. 
Come then, quietly procure me copies of Manlius's (Boethius) 
De astrologia, Victorinus's Rhetoric, Demosthenes's Optalmicus. 3 
I promise thee, brother, and will keep my word, to preserve a 
sacred silence as to thy praiseworthy compliance, and will remit 
twofold whatever thou dost demand. Let this much be known 
to the man, and the pay too, and cheer us more frequently with 
a letter ; and have no fear that knowledge will come to any one 
of any matter thou mayest confide to our good faith." 4 

When he wrote this letter, about the year 988, Gerbert 
was dangerously deep in politics, and great was the power of 
this low-born titular Abbot of Bobbio, head of the school at 
Rheims and secretary to the archbishop. The tortuous 
statecraft and startling many-sidedness of this " scholar in 
politics " must have disturbed his contemporaries, and may 
have roused the suspicions from which grew the stories, told 
by future men, that this scholar, statesman, and philosopher- 

1 Ep. 46, ad Geraldum Abbatem. 

2 I.e. on the affairs of the monastery of Bobbio. 

8 A Greek doctor of Augustus's time, who wrote on the diseases of the eye. 

4 Ep. 130. 


pope was a magician who had learned from forbidden 
sources much that should be veiled. Withal, however, one 
may deem that the most veritable inner bit of Gerbert was 
his love of knowledge and of antique literature, and that the 
letters disclosing this are the subtlest revelation of the man 
who was ever transmuting his well-guarded knowledge into 
himself and his most personal moods. 

" For there is nothing more noble for us in human affairs than 
a knowledge of the most distinguished men ; and may it be 
displayed in volumes upon volumes multiplied. Go on then, as 
you have begun, and bring the streams of Cicero to one who 
thirsts. Let M. Tullius thrust himself into the midst of the 
anxieties which have enveloped us since the betrayal of our city, 
so that in the happy eyes of men we are held unhappy through 
our sentence. What things are of the world we have sought, 
we have found, we have accomplished, and, as I will say, we have 
become chief among the wicked. Lend aid, father, in order that 
divinity, expelled by the multitude of sinners, bent by thy prayers, 
may return, may visit us, may dwell with us — and if possible, 
may we who mourn the absence of the blessed father Adalberon, 
be rejoiced by thy presence." * 

So Gerbert wrote from Rheims, himself a chief intriguer 
in a city full of treason. 

Gerbert was a power making for letters. The best 
scholars sat at his feet ; he was an inspiration at the Courts 
of the second and third Ottos, who loved learning and died 
so young ; and the great school of Chartres, under the 
headship of his pupil Fulbert, was the direct heir to his 
instruction. At Rheims, where he taught so many years, he 
left to others the elementary instruction in Latin. A pupil, 
Richer, who wrote his history, speaks of courses in rhetoric 
and literature, to which he introduced his pupils after 
instructing them in logic : 

" When he wished to lead them on from such studies to 
rhetoric, he put in practice his opinion that one cannot attain 
the art of oratory without a previous knowledge of the modes 
of diction which are to be learned from the poets. So he brought 
forward those with whom he thought his pupils should be con- 
versant. He read and explained the poets Virgil, Statius, and 
Terence, the satirists Juvenal and Persius and Horace, also Lucan 

1 Ep. 167 (in Migne, Ep. 174). 


the historiographer. Familiarized with these, and practised in 
their locutions, he taught his pupils rhetoric. After they were 
instructed in this art, he brought up a sophist, to practise them 
in disputation, so that practised in this art as well, they might 
seem to argue artlessly, which he deemed the height of oratory." x 

So Gerbert used the classic poets in teaching rhetoric, 
and doubtless the great prose writers too, with whom he was 
familiar. Following Cicero's precept that the orator should 
be a proficient reasoner, he prepared his young rhetoricians 
by a course in logic, and completed their discipline with 
exercises in disputation. 

Richer also speaks of Gerbert's epoch-making mathe- 
matical knowledge. 2 In arithmetic he improved the cur- 
rent methods of computation ; in geometry he taught the 
traditional methods of measurement descended from the 
Roman surveyors, and compiled a work from Boethius and 
other sources. For astronomy he made spheres and other 
instruments, and in music his teaching was the best obtain- 
able. In none of these provinces was he an original 
inventor ; nor did he exhaust the knowledge had by men 
before him. He was, however, the embodiment of mediaeval 
progress, in that he drew intelligently upon the sources 
within his reach, and then taught with understanding and 
enthusiasm. Richer's praise is unstinted : 

" He began with arithmetic ; then taught music, of which there 
had long been ignorance in Gaul. . . . With what pains he set 
forth the method of astronomy, it may be well to state, so that the 
reader may perceive the sagacity and skill of this great man. 
This difficult subject he explained by means of admirable instru- 
ments. First he illustrated the world's sphere by one of solid 
wood, the greater by the less. He fixed it obliquely as to the 
horizon with two poles, and near the upper pole set the northern 
constellations, and by the lower one those of the south. He 
determined its position by means of the circle called by the Greeks 
orizon and by the Latins limitans, because it divides the constella- 
tions which are seen from those which are not. By his sphere 
thus fixed, he demonstrated the rising and setting of the stars, 
and taught his disciples to recognize them. And at night he 
followed their courses and marked the place of their rising and 
setting upon the different regions of his model.'? 

1 Richer, Hist. iii. 47, 48. 
2 Several of his compositions are extant. 


The historian passes on to tell how Gerbert with 
ingenious devices showed on his sphere the imaginary circles 
called parallels, and on another the movements of the 
planets, and on still another marked the constellations of 
the heavens, so that even a beginner, upon having one 
constellation pointed out, could find the others. 1 

In the province of philosophy, Gerbert's labours ex- 
tended little beyond formal logic, philosophy's instrument. 
He could do no more than understand and apply as much of 
Boethius's rendering of the Aristotelian Organon as he was 
acquainted with. Yet he appears to have used more of the 
Boethian writings than any man before him, or for a hun- 
dred and fifty years after his death. Richer gives the list. 
Beyond this evidence, curious testimony is borne to the 
nature of Gerbert's dialectic by Richer's account of a notable 
debate. The year was 980, when the fame of the brilliant 
young scholasticus of Rheims had spread through Gaul and 
penetrated Germany. A certain master of repute at 
Magdeburg, named Otric, sent one of his pupils to report on 
Gerbert's teaching, and especially as to his method of laying 
out the divisions of philosophy as " the science of things 
divine and human." The pupil returned with notes of 
Gerbert's classification, in which, by error or intention, it was 
made to appear that he subordinated physics to mathe- 
matics, as species to genus, whereas, in truth, he made them 
of equal rank. Otric thought to catch him tripping, and 
so managed that a disputation was held between them at a 
time when Adalberon and Gerbert were in Italy with the 
Emperor Otto II. It took place in Ravenna. The emperor, 
then nineteen years of age, presided, there being present 
many masters and dignitaries of the Church. Holding in 
his hand a tablet of Gerbert's alleged division of the sciences, 
His Majesty opened the debate : 

" Meditation and discussion, as I think, make for the better- 
ment of human knowledge, and questions from the wise rouse our 
thoughtfulness. Thus knowledge of things is drawn forth by the 
learned, or discovered by them and committed to books, which 
remain to our great good. We also may be incited by certain 
objects which draw the mind to a surer understanding. Observe 

1 Richer, Hist. iii. 48-53. 


now, that I am turning over this tablet inscribed with the divisions 
of philosophy. Let all consider it carefully, and each say what he 
thinks. If it be complete, let it be confirmed by your approba- 
tion. If imperfect, let it be rejected or corrected. 

" Then Otric, taking it before them all, said that it was 
arranged by Gerbert, and had been taken down from his lectures. 
He handed it to the Lord Augustus, who read it through, and 
presented it to Gerbert. The latter, carefully examining it, 
approved in part, and in part condemned, asserting that the 
scheme had not been arranged thus by him. Asked by Augustus 
to correct it, he said : ' Since, O great Caesar Augustus, I see thee 
more potent than all these, I will, as is fitting, obey thy behest. 
Nor shall I be concerned at the spite of the malevolent, by whose 
instigation the very correct division of philosophy recently set 
forth so lucidly by me, has been vitiated by the substitution of a 
species. I say then, that mathematics, physics, and theology 
are to be placed as equals under one genus. The genus likewise 
has equal share in them. Nor is it possible that one and the same 
species, in one and the same respect, should be co-ordinate with 
another species and also be put under it as species under a genus.' 

Then in answer to a demand from Otric for a more 
explicit statement of his classification, he said there could be 
no objection to dividing philosophy according to Vitruvius 
(Victorinus) and Boethius ; "for philosophy is the genus, of 
which the species are the practical and the theoretical : under 
the practical, as species again, come dispensativa, distributiva 
and civilis ; under the theoretical fall phisica naturalis, 
mathematica intelligibilis, and theologia intellectibilis." 

Otric then wonders that Gerbert put mathematics 
immediately after physics, omitting physiology. To which 
Gerbert replies that physiology stands to physics as 
philology to philosophy, of which it is part. Otric changes 
his attack to a flank movement, and asks Gerbert what is the 
causa of philosophy. Gerbert asks whether he means the 
cause by which, or the cause for which, it is devised {inventa). 
Otric replies the latter. " Then," says Gerbert, " since you 
make your question clear, I say that philosophy was devised 
that from it we might understand things divine and human." 
" But why use so many words," says Otric, " to designate 
the cause of one thing ? " " Because one word may not 
suffice to designate a cause. Plato uses three to designate 
the cause of the creation of the world, to wit, the bona Dei 


voluntas. He could not have said voluntas simply." "But," 
says Otric, " he could have said more concisely Dei voluntas, 
for God's will is always good, which he would not deny." 

" Here I do not contradict you," says Gerbert, " but consider : 
since God alone is good in himself, and every creature is good 
only by participation, the word bona is added to express the 
quality peculiar to His nature alone. However this may be, 
still one word will not always designate a cause. What is the 
cause of shadow ? Can you put that in one word ? I say, the 
cause of shadow is a body interposed to light. It is not ' body ' 
nor even ' body interposed.' I don't deny that the causes of 
many things can be stated in one word, as the genera of substance, 
quantity, or quality, which are the causes of species. Others 
cannot be expressed so simply, as rationale ad mortale." 

This enigmatic phrase electrifies Otric, who cries : " You 
put the mortal under the rational ? Who does not know 
that the rational is confined to God, angels, and mankind, 
while the mortal embraces everything mortal, a limitless 
mass ? " 

" To which Gerbert : ' If, following Porphyry and Boethius, 
you make a careful division of substance, carrying it down to 
individuals, you will have the rational broader than the mortal as 
may readily be shown. Since substance, admittedly the most 
general genus, may be divided into subordinate genera and 
species down to individuals, it is to be seen whether all these 
subordinates may be expressed by a single word. Clearly, some 
are designated with one word, as corpus, others with several, as 
animatum sensibile. With like reason, the subordinate, which is 
animal rationale, may be predicated of the subject that is animal 
rationale mortale. Not that rationale may be predicated of what 
is mortal simply ; but rationale, I say, joined to animal is pre- 
dicated of mortale joined to animal rationale.' 

" At this, Augustus with a nod ended the argument, since it had 
lasted nearly the whole day, and the audience were fatigued with 
the prolix and unbroken disputation. He splendidly rewarded 
Gerbert, who set out for Gaul with Adalberon." * 

Evidently Richer's account gives merely the captions of 
this disputation. There was not the slightest originality in 
any of the propositions stated by the disputants ; everything 
is taken from Porphyry and Boethius and the current Latin 
translation of Plato's Timaeus. Yet the whole affair, the 

1 Richer, Hist. iii. cap. 55-65. 


selection of the questions, the nature of the answers, the 
limitation of the matter to the bare poles of logical palestrics, 
is most illustrative of the mentality and intellectual interests 
of the late tenth century. The growth of the mediaeval 
intellect lay unavoidably through such courses of discipline. 
And just as early mediaeval Latin had to save itself from 
barbarism by cleaving to grammar, so the best intellect of 
this early period grasped at logic not only as the most 
obviously needed discipline and guide, but also with im- 
perfect consciousness that this discipline and means did not 
contain the goal and plenitude of substantial knowledge. 
Grammar was then not simply a means but an end in the 
study of letters, and so was logic unconsciously. In the one 
case and the other, the palpable need of the disciplina and 
its difficulties kept the student from realizing that the 
instrument was but an instrument. 

Moreover, upon Gerbert's time pressed the specific need 
to consider just such questions as the disputation affords a 
sample of. An enormous mass of theology, philosophy, and 
science awaited mastering, the heritage from a greater past, 
antique and patristic. Perhaps a true instinct guided 
Gerbert and his contemporaries to problems of classification 
and method as a primary essential task. Had the Middle 
Ages been a period when knowledge, however crude, was 
perforce advancing through experience, investigation, and 
discovery, the problems of classification and method 
would not have presented themselves as preliminary. But 
mediaeval development lay through the study of what 
former men had won from nature or received from God. 
This was preserved in books which had to be studied and 
mastered. Hence classifications of knowledge were essential 
aids or sorely needed guides. With a true instinct the 
Middle Ages first of all looked within this mass of know- 
ledge for guides to its mazes, seeking a plan or scheme by 
the aid of which universal knowledge might be unravelled, 
and then reconstructed in forms corresponding to even 
larger verities. 1 

1 See post, Chapter XXXVI. If one should hesitate to find a phase of the 
veritable Gerbert in Richer's report of the disputation with Otric, one may turn 
to Gerbert's own philosophic or logical Libellus — de rationali et ratione uti (Migne 



The decades on either side of the year 1000 were 
cramped and dull. In Burgundy, to be sure, the energies 
of Cluny, 1 under its great abbots, were rousing the 
monastic world to a sense of religious and disciplinary 
decency. This reform, however, took little interest in 
culture. The monks of Cluny were commonly instructed in 
the rudiments of the Seven Arts. They had a little mathe- 
matics ; bits of crude physical knowledge had unavoidably 
come to them ; and just as unavoidably had they made use 
of extracts from the pagan poets in studying Latinity. 2 
But they did not follow letters for their own sake, nor 
knowledge because they loved it and felt that love a holy 
one. Monastic principles hardly justified such a love, and 
Cluny' s abbots had enough to do in bringing the monastic 
world to decency, without dallying with inapplicable know- 
ledge or the charms of pagan poetry. 

Religious reforms in the ninth century had helped 
letters in the cathedral and monastic schools of Gaul. The 
latter soon fell back to ignorance ; but among the cathedral 
schools, Chartres and Rheims and Laon continued to flourish. 
A moral ordering of life increases thoughtfulness and may 
stimulate study. Hence, in the latter part of the tenth 
century, the Cluniac reforms, like the earlier reforming 
movements, affected letters favourably in the monasteries. 

139, col. 159-168). It is addressed to Otto II., and the opening paragraph recalls 
to the emperor the disputation which we have been following. The Libellns 
is naturally more coherent than the disputation, in which Otric's questions seem 
intended rather to trip his adversary than to lead a topic on to its proper end. 
It is devoted, however, to a problem exactly analogous to the point taken by Otric, 
that the term rational was not as broad as the term mortal. For the Libellus 
discusses whether the use of reason (ratione uti) can be predicated of the rational 
being {rationale). The concept of the predicate should be the broader one, but 
here it might seem less broad, since all reasonable beings do not exercise reason. 
The discussion closely resembles the dispute in the character of the intellectual 
interests disclosed, and its arguments are not more original than those employed 
against Otric. Disputation and Libellus alike represent necessary endeavours of 
the mind, which has reached a certain stage of tuition and development, to adjust 
itself with problems of logical order and method. 

1 Post, Chapter XVI. 

2 Cf. Sackiir, Die Cluniacenser, ii. 330 sqq. ; Pfister, fitudes sur le regne de 
Robert le Pieux, p. 2 sqq. (the latter takes an extreme view). 


Here and there an exceptional man created an exceptional 
situation. Such a one was Abbo, Abbot of St. Benedict's 
at Fleury on the Loire, who died the year after Gerbert. 
He was fortunate in his excellent pupil and biographer, 
Aimoin, who ascribes to him as liberal sentiments toward 
study as were consistent with a stern monasticism : 

" He admonished his hearers that having cast out the thorns of 
sin, they should sow the little gardens of their hearts with the spices 
of the divine virtues. The battle lay against the vices of the flesh, 
and it was for them to consider what arms they should oppose 
to its delights. To complete their armament, after the vows of 
prayer, and the manly strife of fastings, he deemed that the study 
of letters would advantage them, and especially the exercise of 
composition. Indeed he himself, the studious man, scarcely let 
pass a moment when he was not reading, writing, or dictating." * 

It is curious to observe the unavoidable influence of a 
crude Latin education upon the most strenuous of these 
reforming monks. In 994 Odilo became Abbot of Cluny. 
After a most notable and effective rule of more than half a 
century, he died just as the year 1049 began. The closing 
scenes are typically illustrative of the passing of an early 
mediaeval saint. The dying abbot preaches and comforts 
his monks, gives his blessing, adores the Cross, repels the 
devil : 

" I warn thee, enemy of the human race, turn from me thy 
plots and hidden wiles, for by me is the Cross of the Lord, which I 
always adore : the Cross my refuge, my way and virtue ; the 
Cross, unconquerable banner, the invincible weapon. The Cross 
repels every evil, and puts darkness to flight. Through this divine 
Cross I approach my journey ; the Cross is my life — death to 
thee, Enemy ! " 

The next day, " in the presence of all, the Creed is read 
for a shield of faith against the deceptions of malignant 

1 Aimoin's Vita Abbonis, cap. 7 (Migne, Pat. Lot. 139, col. 393). The same 
volume contains most of Abbo's extant writings, and those of Aimoin. On Abbo 
see Sackiir, Die Cluniacenser, ii. 345 sqq. 

An incredibly large number of students are said to have attended Abbo's 
lectures. His studies and teaching lay mainly in astronomy, mathematics, 
chronology, and grammar. The pupil Aimoin cultivated history and biography, 
compiling a History of the Francs and a History of the miracles of St. Benedict, 
the latter a theme worthy of the tenth century. One leaves it with a sigh of 
relief, so barren was it save for its feat of gestation in giving birth to Gerbert. 


spirits and the attacks of evil thoughts ; Augustine is 
brought in to expound, intently listened to, and discussed." x 

For Odilo, the Cross is a divine, not to say magic, safe- 
guard. His prayer and imprecation have something of the 
nature of an uttered spell. No antique zephyrs seem to 
blow in this atmosphere of faith and fear, in which he passed 
his life and performed his miracles before and after death. 
Nevertheless the antique might mould his phrases, and 
perhaps unconsciously affect his ethical conceptions. He 
wrote a Life of a former abbot of Cluny, ascribing to him the 
four cardinales disciplinas, in which he strove to perfect 
himself " in order that through prudentia he might assure the 
welfare of himself and those in his charge ; that through 
temper antia (which by another name is called modestia), by 
a proper measure of a just discretion, he might modestly 
discharge the spiritual business entrusted to him ; that 
through fortitude* he might resist and conquer the devil and 
his vices ; and that through justitia, which permeates all 
virtues and seasons them, he might live soberly and piously 
and justly, fight the good fight and finish his course." 2 

Thus the antique virtues shape Odilo's thoughts, as seven 
hundred years before him the point of view and reasoning 
of Ambrose's De officiis ministrorum were set by Cicero's 
De officiis. 3 The same classically touched phrases, if not 
conceptions, pass on to Odilo's pupil and biographer, the 
monk Jotsaldus, to whom we owe our description of Odilo's 
last moments. He ascribes the four cardinal virtues to his 
hero, and then defines them from the antique standpoint, 
but with Christian turns of thought : 

" The philosophers define Prudence as the search for truth and 
the thirst for fuller knowledge. In which virtue Odilo was so 
distinguished that neither by day nor night did he cease from the 
search for truth. The Book of the divine contemplation was 
always in his hands, and ceaselessly he spoke of Scripture for the 
edification of all, and prayer ever followed reading. 

" Justice, as the philosophers say, is that which renders each 

1 Jotsaldus, Vita Odilonis (Migne 142, col. 1037). 

2 Odilo, Vita Maioli (Migne 142, col. 951). 

3 See Taylor, Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages, p. 74 sqq. One may compare 
the influence of Cicero's De amicitia on the De amicitia Christiana of Peter of Blois 
(cir. 1200), Migne 207, col. 871-898. 


his due, lays no claim to what is another's, and neglects self- 
advantage, so as to maintain what is equitable for all." [To 
illustrate this virtue in Odilo, the biographer gives instances of his 
charity, by which one observes the Christian turn taken by the 

" Fortitude is to hold the mind above the dread of danger, 
to fear nothing save the base, and bravely bear adversity and 
prosperity. Supported by this virtue, it is difficult to say how 
brave he was in repelling the plots of enemies and how patient in 
enduring them. You might observe in him this very privilege of 
patience ; to those who injured him, as another David he repaid 
the grace of benefit, and toward those who hated him, he preserved 
a stronger benevolence." [Again the Christian turn of thought.] 

" Temperance, last in the catalogue of the aforesaid virtues, 
according to its definition maintains moderation and order in 
whatever is to be said or done. Here he was so mighty as to hold 
to moderation and observe propriety (ordinem) in all his actions 
and commands, and show a wonderful discretion. Following the 
blessed Jerome, he tempered fasting to the golden mean, according 
to the weakness or strength of the body, thus avoiding fanaticism 
and preserving continency. Neither elegance nor squalor was 
noticeable in his dress. He tempered gravity of conduct with 
gaiety of countenance. He was severe in the correction of vice 
as the occasion demanded, gracious in pardoning, in both balanc- 
ing an impartial scale." 1 


A friend of Odilo was Gerbert's pupil Fulbert, Bishop of 
Chartres from 1006 to 1028. His name is joined forever 
with that chief cathedral school of early mediaeval France, 
which he so firmly and so broadly re-established as to earn 
a founder's fame. It will be interesting to notice its range 
of studies. Chartres was an ancient home of letters. 
Caesar 2 speaks of the land of the Carnuti as the centre of 
Druidism in Gaul ; and under the Empire, liberal studies 
quickly sprang up in the Gallo-Roman city. They did not 
quite cease even in Merovingian times, and revived with the 
Carolingian revival. Thenceforth they were pursued con- 
tinuously at the convent school of St. Peter, if not at the 
school attached to the cathedral. For some years before 
he was made bishop, the grave and kindly Fulbert had been 

1 Vita Odilonis, chaps, vi.-xiii. (Migne 142, col. 909 sqq.). 
2 Bellum Gallicum, vi. 13. 


the head of this cathedral school, where he did not cease 
to teach until his death. As bishop, widely esteemed and 
influential, he rebuilt the cathedral, aided by the kings of 
France and Denmark, the dukes of Aquitaine and Normandy, 
the counts of Champagne and Blois. His vast crypt still 
endures, a shadowy goal for thousands of pilgrim knees, and 
an ample support for the great edifice above it. Admiring 
tradition has ascribed to him even this glory of a later 

From near and far, pious students came to benefit by 
the instruction of the school, of which Fulbert was the head 
and inspiration. Their intercourse was intimate with their 
" Venerable Socrates " in the small school buildings near the 
cathedral. From the accounts, we can almost see him 
moving among them, stopping to correct one here, or look- 
ing over the shoulder of another engaged upon a geometric 
figure, and putting some new problem. Among the pupils 
there might be rivalry, quarrels, breaches of decorum ; but 
there was the master, ever grave and steadfast, always ready 
to encourage with his sympathy, but prepared also to 
reprove, either silently by withdrawing his confidence, or in 
words, as when he forbade an instructor to joke when 
explaining Donatus : " spectaculum factus es omnibus ; cave." 

Some of these scholars became men of sanctity and 
renown — Berengar of Tours gained an unhappy fame. A 
fellow-student wrote to him in later years addressing him as 
foster-brother : 

" I have called thee foster-brother because of that sweetest 
common life led by us while youths in the Academy of Chartres 
under our venerable Socrates. Well we proved his saving doctrine 
and holy living, and now that he is with God we should hope to be 
aided by his prayers. Surely he is mindful of us, cherishing us 
even more than when he moved a pilgrim in the body of this death, 
and drew us to him by vows and tacit prayer, entreating us in 
those evening colloquies (vespertina colloquia) in the garden by the 
chapel, that we should tread the royal way, and cleave to the 
footprints of the holy fathers." x 

The cathedral school included youths receiving their first 
lessons, as well as older scholars and instructors. They 

1 Migne 143, col. 1290. 

300 TftE MEDIAEVAL MIND bookh 

lived together under rules, and together celebrated the 
services of the cathedral, chanting the matins, the hours, 
and the mass. The Trivium and Quadrivium made the 
basis of their studies. Text-books and courses were already 
some centuries old. 

The first branch of the Trivium was Grammar, which 
included literature by way of illustration ; and he who held 
the chair had the title of grammaticus. For the beginners, 
Donatus was the text-book, and Priscianus for the more 
advanced. 1 Nor was Martianus Capella neglected. The 
student annotated these works with citations from the 
Etymologies of Isidore. Divers mnemotechnic processes 
assisted him to commit the contents to memory. The 
grammatical course included the writing of compositions 
in prose and verse, according to rule, and the reading of 
classic authors. For their school verses in metre the pupils 
used Bede's De arte metrica, an encyclopaedia of metrical 
forms. They also wrote accentual and rhymed Latin verse. 
Of profane authors the Library appears to have contained 
Livy, Valerius Maximus, Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Statius, 
Servius the commentator on Virgil ; and of writers who were 
Christian Classics in the Middle Ages, Orosius, Gregory of 
Tours, Fortunatus, Sedulius, Arator, Prudentius, and 
Boethius, the last named being the most important single 
source of early mediaeval education. Rhetoric, the second 
branch of the Trivium, bore that vague relationship to 
grammar which it bears in modern parlance. The rules of 
the rhetoricians were learned ; the works of profane or 
Christian orators were read and imitated. This study left 
its mark on mediaeval sermons and Vitae Sanctorum. 

As for the third branch, Dialectic, Fulbert's pupils 
studied the logical treatises in general use in the earlier 
Middle Ages : to wit, the Categories and the De inter - 
pretatione of Aristotle, and Porphyry's Introduction,, all in 
the Latin of Boethius. For works which might be regarded 
as commentaries upon these, the school had at its disposal 
the Categories ascribed to Augustine and Apuleius's De 
interpretatione, Cicero's Topica, and Boethius's discussion 
of definition, division, and categorical and hypothetical 

1 For a description of these works, see post, Chapter XXXI. n. 


syllogisms — the logical writings expounded by Gerbert at 
Rheims. The school had likewise Gerbert's own Libellus de 
ratione uti and Boethius's De consolatione, -that chief ethical 
compend for the early Middle Ages ; also the writings of 
Eriugena, and Dionysius the Areopagite in Eriugena's 
translation. Whether or not it possessed the current Latin 
version of Plato's Timaeus, Fulbert and Berengar at all 
events refer to Plato in terms of eulogy. 

Passing to the Quadrivium, we find that Fulbert had 
studied its four branches under Gerbert. In Arithmetic the 
students used the treatise of Boethius, and also the Abacus, 
a table of vertical columns, with Roman numerals at the 
top to indicate the order of units, tens, and hundreds 
according to the decimal system. In Geometry the students 
likewise fell back upon Boethius. Astronomy, the third 
branch of the Quadrivium, had for its practical object the 
computation of the Church's calendar. The pupils learned 
the signs of the Zodiac and were instructed in the method 
of finding the stars by the Astrolabius, a sphere (such as 
Gerbert had constructed) representing the constellations, 
and turning upon a tube as an axis, which served to fix 
the polar star. Music, the fourth branch of the Quadrivium, 
was zealously cultivated. For its theory, the treatise of 
Boethius was studied ; and Fulbert and his scholars did 
much to advance the music of the liturgy, composing texts 
and airs for organ chanting. 

In addition to the Quadrivium, medicine was taught. 
The students learned receipts and processes handed down 
by tradition and commonly ascribed to Hippocrates. For 
more convenient memorizing, Fulbert cast them into verse. 
Such " medicine " was not founded on observation ; and a 
mediaeval scholar-copyist would as naturally transcribe a 
medical receipt-book as any other work coming within the 
range of his stylus. One may remember that in the early 
Middle Ages the relic was the common means of cure. 

The seven Artes of the Trivium and Quadrivium were 
the handmaids of Theology ; and Fulbert gave elaborate 
instruction in this Christian queen of the sciences, expound- 
ing the Scriptures, explaining the Liturgy, and taking up 
the controversies of the time. As a part of this sacred 


science, the students apparently were taught something of 
Canon and Roman law and of Charlemagne's Capitularies. 1 


The Chartres Quadrivium represents the extreme 
compass of mathematical and physical studies in France in 
the eleventh century, when slight interest was taken in 
physical science — a phrase far too grand to designate the 
crass traditional views of nature which prevailed. Indiffer- 
ence to natural knowledge was the most palpable intellectual 
defect of Ambrose and Augustine, and the most portentous. 
The coming centuries, which were to look upon their 
writings as universal guides to living and knowing, found 
therein no incentive to observe or study the natural world. 
Of course the Carolingian period evolved out of itself no 
such desire ; 2 nor did the eleventh century. At the best, 
the general understanding of physical fact remained that 
which had been handed down. It was gleaned from the 
books commonly read, the Physiologus or the edifying 
stories of miracles in the myriad Vitae Sanctorum, quite as 
much as from the scant information given in Isidore's 
Origines, Bede's Liber de temporibus, or the De universo of 
Rabanus Maurus. 

So much for natural science. In historical writing the 
quality of composition rarely rose above that of the tenth 
century. 3 No sign of critical acumen had appeared, and 
the writers of the period show but a narrow local interest. 
There was no France, but everywhere a parcelling of the 
land into small sections of misrule, between which travel 
was difficult and dangerous. The chroniclers confine their 
attention, as doubtless their knowledge also was confined, 
to the region where they lived. To lift history over these 
narrow barriers, there was needed the renewal of the royal 

1 The substance of this sketch of the school of Chartres is taken chiefly from 
the Abbe Clerval's exhaustive study, " Les Ecoles de Chartres au moyen age," 
Memoires de la Society arcMologique d' Eur e-et- Loir, xi., 1895. For the later for- 
tunes of this school see post, Chapter XXXI. 

2 Unless possibly in the mind of Eriugena. 

3 The Histories of Gerbert's pupil Richer are somewhat better, and show an 
imitation of Sallust. 


power, which came with the century's close, and the stimulus 
to curiosity springing from the Crusades. 1 

In fine, the eleventh century was crude and inchoate, 
preparatory to the intellectual activity and the unleashed 
energies of life which mark the opening of the twelfth. Yet 
the mediaeval mind was assimilating and appropriating 
dynamically its lessons from the Fathers, as well as those 
portions of the antique heritage of thought which, so far, it 
had felt a need of. Difficult problems were stated, but in 
ways presenting, as it were, the apices of alternatives too 
narrow to hold truth, which lies less frequently in warring 
opposites than in an inclusive and discriminating conciliation. 
This century, especially when we fix our attention upon 
France, appears as the threshold of mediaeval thinking, the 
immediate antecedent to mediaeval formulations of philo- 
sophic and theological conviction. The controversies and 
the different mental tendencies which thereafter were to 
move through such large and often diverging courses, drew 
their origin from still prior times. With the coming of the 
eleventh century they had been sturdily cradled, and seemed 
safe from the danger of dying in infancy. Thence on through 
the twelfth century, through the thirteenth, the climacteric 
of mediaeval thought, opinions and convictions are set in 
multitudes of propositions, relating to many provinces of 
human meditation. 

These masses of propositions, convictions, opinions, 
philosophic and religious, constitute the religious philosophy 
of the Middle Ages — scholasticism as it commonly is called. 
Hereafter 2 it will be necessary to consider that large matter 
in its continuity of development, with its roots or anteced- 
ents stretching back through the eleventh century to the 
Carolingian period, and beyond. Mediaeval thinkers will 
then be seen to fall into two classes, very roughly speaking, 
the one tending to set authority above reason, and the other 
tending to set reason above authority. Both classes appear 
in the ninth century, represented respectively by Rabanus 
Maurus and Eriugena. In the eleventh they are also 
evident. St. Anselm, who came from Italy, is the most 

1 Cf. Molinier, Les Sources de Vhistoire de France, v., Ixix. 
* Post, Chapters XXXV.-XLIII. 


admirable representative of the first class, being in heart and 
mind a theologian whose philosophy revolved entire around 
his faith. Of him we have spoken ; and here may mention 
in contrast with him two Frenchmen, Berengar of Tours and 
Roscellinus. In place and time they come within the 
scope of the present chapter ; nor were their mental 
processes such as to attach them to a later period. By 
temperament, and in somewhat confused expression, they 
set reason above authority, save that of Scripture as they 
understood it. 

Berengar was born, apparently at Tours, and of wealthy 
parents, just as the tenth century closed. After studying 
under his uncle, the Treasurer of St. Martin, he came 
to Chartres, where Fulbert was bishop. Judging from a 
general consensus of expression from men who became his 
opponents, but had been his fellow-pupils, he quickly aroused 
attention by his talents, and anxiety or enmity by his pride 
and the self-confident assertion of his opinions. He would 
neither accept with good grace the admonitions of those 
about him, nor follow the authority of the Fathers. He was 
said to have despised even the great grammarians and 
logicians, Priscian, Donatus, and Boethius. Why err with 
everybody if everybody errs, he asked. He appears as a 
vain man eager for admiration. The report comes down 
that he imitated Fulbert's manner in lecturing, first covering 
his visage with a hood so as to seem in deep meditation, and 
then speaking in a gentle, plaintive voice. From Chartres 
he passed to Angers, where he filled the office of archdeacon, 
and thence he returned to Tours, was placed over the 
Church schools of St. Martin's, and in the course of time 
began to lecture on the Eucharist. This was between the 
years 1030 and 1040. 

That a man's fortunes and fame are linked to a certain 
doctrine or controversy may be an accident of environment. 
Berengar chose to adduce and partly follow the teachings of 
Eriugena, whose fame was great, but whose orthodoxy was 
tainted. The nature of the Eucharist lent itself to dispute, 
and from the time of Ratramnus, Radbertus, and Eriugena, 
it was common for theologians to try their hand on it, if 
only in order to demonstrate their adherence to the extreme 


doctrines accepted by the Church. These were not the 
doctrines of Eriugena, nor were they held by Berengar, who 
would not bring himself to admit an absolute substantial 
change in the bread and wine. Possibly his convictions 
were less irrational than the dominant doctrine. Yet he 
appears to have asserted them, not because he had a clearer 
mind than others, but by reason of his more self-assertive 
and combative temperament. He was not an original 
thinker, but a controversial and turgid reasoner, who 
naturally enough was forced into all kinds of tergiversation 
in order to escape condemnation as a heretic. His self- 
assertiveness settled on the most obvious theological 
dispute of the time, and his self-esteem maintained the 
superiority of his own reason over the authorities adduced 
by his adversaries. Of course he never impugned the 
authority of Scripture, but relied on it to substantiate his 
views, merely asserting that a reasonable interpretation was 
better than a foolish one. Throughout the controversy, one 
may observe that Berengar's understanding of fact kept 
somewhat closer than that of his opponents to the tangible 
realities of sense. But a difference of intellectual tempera- 
ment lay at the bottom of his dissent ; and had not the 
Eucharist presented itself as the readiest topic of dispute, 
he would doubtless have fallen upon some other question. 
As it was, his arguments gained adherents, the dominant 
view being repellent to independent minds. Still, it won the 
day, and Berengar was condemned by more than one 
council, and forced into all manner of equivocal retractions, 
by which at least he saved his life, and died in extreme old 

It may be that a larger relative import attributed by 
Berengar and also Roscellin to the tangibilities of sense- 
perception, led the latter at the close of the century to put 
forth views on the nature of universals which have given 
him a shadowy repute as the father of nominalism. The 
Eucharistic controversy pertained primarily to Christian 
dogmatics. That regarding universals, or general ideas, 
pertains to philosophy, and, from the standpoint of formal 
logic, lies at the foundation of consistent thinking. So 
closely does it make part of the development of scholasticism, 

vol. 1 x 


that its discussion had best be postponed ; merely assuming 
for the present that Roscellin's thinking upon the topic to 
which his name is attached was not superior in method 
and analysis to Berengar's upon the Eucharist. 

One cannot escape the conclusion that intellectually the 
eleventh century in France was crude. The mediaeval 
intellect was still but imperfectly developed ; its manifesta- 
tions had not reached the zenith of their energy. Yet 
doubtless the mental development of mankind proceeds at 
a more uniform rate than would appear from the brilliant 
phenomena which crowd the eras of apparent culmination, 
in contrast with the previous dulness. The profounder 
constancy of growth may be discerned by scrutinizing those 
dumb courses of gestation, from which spring the marvels of 
the great epoch. The opening of the twelfth century was 
to inaugurate a brilliant intellectual era in France. The 
efficient preparation stretched back into the latter half of 
the eleventh, whose Catholic progress heralded a period of 
awakening. The Church already was striving to accomplish 
its own reordering and regeneration, free itself from things 
that drag and hinder, from lay investiture and simony, 
abominations through which feudal depotentiating principles 
had intruded into the ecclesiastic body ; free itself likewise 
from clerical marriage and concubinage, which kept the 
clergy from being altogether clergy, and weighted the 
Church with the claims of half -spurious priests' offspring. 
In France the reform of the monks comes first, impelled 
by Cluny ; and when Cluny herself becomes less zealous, 
because too great and rich, the spirit of soldiery against sin 
reincarnates itself in the Grand-Chartreuse, in Citeaux and 
Clairvaux. The reform of the secular clergy follows, with 
Hildebrand the veritable master ; for the Church was 
passing from prelacy to papacy, and the Pope was becoming 
a true monarch, instead of nominal head of an episcopal 

The perfected organization and unceasing purification of 
the Church made one part of the general progress of the 
period. Another consisted in the disengaging of the greater 
powers from out the indiscriminate anarchy of feudalism, 
and the advance of the French monarchy, under Louis the 


Sixth, 1 toward effective sovereignty, all making for a surer 
law and order throughout France. Then through the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries came the struggle of the 
people, out of serfdom into some control over their own 
persons and fortunes. Everywhere the population increased ; 
old cities grew apace, and a multitude of new ones came into 
existence. Economic evolution progressed, advancing with 
the affranchisement of industry, the organization of guilds, 
the growth of trade, the opening of new markets, fairs, and 
freer avenues of commerce. Architecture with new civic 
resources was pushing on through Romanesque toward 
Gothic, while the affiliated arts of sculpture and painting 
were becoming more expressive. The Crusades began, and 
did their work of spreading knowledge through the Occident, 
carrying foreign ideas and institutions across provincial 
barriers. They could not have taken place had it not been 
for the freeing of social forces during the half century 
preceding their inception in the year 1096. 2 

Thus humanity was universally bestirring itself through- 
out the land we know as France. Such a bestirring could 
not fail to crown itself with a mightier winging of the spirit 
through the higher provinces of thought. This was to show 
itself among saints and doctors of the Church in their 
philosophies and theologies of the mind and heart ; with 
like power it was to show itself among those hardier 
rationalists who with difficulty and misgivings, or under 
hard compulsion, still kept themselves within the Church's 
pale. It showed itself too with heretics who let themselves 
be burned rather than surrender their outlawed convictions. 
It was also to show itself through things beautiful, in the 
strivings of art toward the perfect symbolical presentation 
of what the soul cherished or abhorred ; and show itself 
too in the literature of the common tongues as well 
as the literature of the time-honoured Latin. In fine, it 
was to show itself, through every heightened faculty and 
appetition of the universally striving and desirous soul of 
man, in a larger, bolder understanding and appreciation 1 
of life. _J 

1 Born 1078 ; king from 1108 to 1137. 
2 See post, Chapter XIV. 



I. German Appropriation of Christianity and Antique 

II. Othloh's Spiritual Conflict. 
III. England; Closing Comparisons. 

In tfre Germans of the eleventh century one notes a strong 
sense of German selfhood, supplemented by a consciousness 
that Latin culture is a foreign matter, introduced as a thing 
of great value which it were exceeding well for them to 
make their own. They are even conscious of having been 
converted to Latin Christianity, which on their part they are 
imbuing with German thoughts and feeling. They are not 
Romance people ; they have never spoken Latin ; it has 
never been and will never be their speech. They will 
master what they can of the antique education which has 
been brought to them. But even as it was no part of their 
forefathers' lives, so it will never penetrate their own per- 
sonalities, so as to make them the spiritual descendants of 
any antique Latin or Latinized people. They have never 
been and never will be Latinized ; but will remain forever 

Consequently the appropriation of the Latin culture in 
Germany is a labour of translation : first a palpable labour 
of translation from the Latin language into the German 
tongue, and secondly, and for always, a more subtle kind of 
translation of the antique influence into a German under- 
standing of the same, and gradually into informing principles 



made use of by a strong and advancing racial genius. The 
German genius will be enlarged and developed through these 
foreign elements, but it will never cease to use the Latin 
culture as a means of informing and developing itself. 

No need to say that these strong statements apply to 
the Germans in their home north of the Alps and east of 
the Rhine ; not to those who left the Fatherland, and in the 
course of generations became Italians, for example. More- 
over, general phrases must always be taken subject to 
qualification and rounding of the corners. No people can 
absorb a foreign influence without in some degree being 
made over into the likeness of what they are receiving, and 
to that extent ceasing to be their unmitigated selves. In 
general, however, while Latin Christianity and the antique 
culture both were brought to Germany from abroad, the 
Germans were converted or transformed only by the former, 
and merely took and used the latter — a true statement this, 
so far as one may separate these two great mingled factors 
of mediaeval progress. 

Evidently those Germans of the opening mediaeval 
centuries who did most to advance the civilization of their 
people were essentially introducers of foreign culture. This 
was manifestly true of the missionaries (chief among whom 
was the Anglo-Saxon Boniface) who brought Christianity to 
Germany. It was true both as to the Christian and the 
secular learning of Rabanus Maurus, who was born at Mainz, 
a very German. 1 With all his Latin learning he kept his 
interest in his mother tongue, and always realized that his 
people spoke German and not Latin. He encouraged 
preaching in German ; and with the aid of his favourite 
pupil, Walafrid, he prepared German glosses and Latin- 
German glossaries for Scripture. 

Before Rabanus's death popular translations of the Gos- 
pels had appeared, imbued with the Germanic spirit. The 
Heliand and Otfrid's Evangelienbuch are the best known of 
these. 2 Then, extending through the last part of the tenth 
and the first part of the eleventh century we note the labours 
of that most diligent of translators, Notker the German, 
a monk of St. Gall, and member of the Ekkehart family, 

1 Ante, p. 221 sqq. 2 Ante, p. 203 sqq. 


which gave so many excellent abbots to that cloister. He 
died in 1022. Like Bede, Rabanus, and many other 
Teutonic scholars, he was an encyclopaedia of the knowledge 
afforded by his time. He was the head of a school of 
German translators. His own translations covered part of 
Boethius's De consolatione, Virgil's Bucolics, Terence's Andria, 
Martianus Capella's De nuptiis, Aristotle's Categories and De 
interpretation, an arithmetic, a rhetoric, Job, and the Psalms. 
He was a teacher all his life, and a German always, loving 
his mother tongue, and occupying himself with its grammar 
and word forms. His method of translation was to give the 
Latin sentence, with a close German rendering, accompanied 
by an occasional explanation of the matter, also in German. 1 
All the while, this foreign learning was being mastered 
gallantly in the leading cloisters, Fulda, St. Gall, Reichenau, 
Hersfeld, and others. Within their walls this Latin culture 
was studied and mastered, as one with resolve and persever- 
ance masters that to which he is not born. 

Besides those who laboured as translators, other earnest 
fosterers of learning in Germany appear as introducers of 
the same. Bruno, youngest brother of Otto I., is distin- 
guished in this role. He promoted letters in his archiepis- 
copal diocese of Cologne. From many lands learned men 
came to him, Liutprand and Ratherius among others. Otto 
himself loved learning, and drew foreign scholars to his Court, 
one of whom was that conceited Gunzo, already spoken of. 2 

1 On Notker see Piper, Die alteste Litteratur (Deutsche Nat. Lit.), pp. 337-340. 

2 Ante, Chapter XI., where something was said of Liutprand also. Ratherius 
was a restless intriguer and pamphleteer, a sort of stormy petrel, who was born 
in 890 near Liege. In the course of his career he was once bishop of that northern 
city, and three times bishop of Verona, where he died, an old man of angry soul 
and bitter tongue. Two years and more had he passed in a dungeon at Pavia — 
a sharpening experience for one already given overmuch to hate. There he com- 
piled his rather dreary six books of Praeloquia (Migne 136, col. 145-344), pre- 
paratory discourses, perhaps precursive of another work, but at all events con- 
taining moral instruction for all orders of society. It was in the nature of a com- 
pilation, and yet touched with a strain of personal plaint, which sometimes makes 
itself clearly audible in words that show this work to have been its author's prison 
consolatio : " Think what anguish impelled me to it, what calamity, what necessity 
showed me these paths of authorship. Dread of forgetting was my first reason 
for writing. Buried under all sorts of the rubbish of wickedness, surrounded by 
the darkness of evil, and distracted with the clamours of affairs, I feared that I 
should forget, and was delighted to find how much I could remember. Books 
were lacking, and friends to talk with, while sorrow gnawed the soul ; so I used 
this book of mine as a friend to chat with, and was comforted by it as by a com- 


c hools moved with the emperor (scholae translatitiae) also 
tirith Bruno, who though archbishop, duke, and burdened 
vith affairs, took the time to teach. A passage in his Life 
bv Ruotger shows the education and accomplishments of 
this most worthy prince of the Church and land : 

" Then as soon as he learned the first rudiments of the 
amrn atic art, as we have heard from himself, often pondering 
upon this to the glory of the omnipotent God he began to read 
the poet Prudentius, at the instance of his master. This poet, as 
u e is catholic in faith and argument, eminent for eloquence and 
truth, and most elegant in the variety of his works and metres, 
with so great sweetness quickly pleased the palate of his heart, 
that at once, with greater avidity than can be expressed, he drank 
up not only the knowledge of the outer word, but even the marrow 
f the innermost meaning and purest nectar, if I may so say. 
Afterwards there was no branch of liberal study in all Greek or 
Latin eloquence, that escaped the quickness of his genius. Nor 
indeed, as often happens, did the multitude of riches, or the 
insistency of clamouring crowds, nor any disgust otherwise coming 
over him, ever turn his mind from this noble employment of 
leisure. . . . Often he seated himself as a learned arbiter in the 
midst of the most learned Greek and Latin doctors, when they 
argued on the sublimity of philosophy or upon the subtility of 
any discipline flourishing within her, and gave satisfaction to 
the disputants, amid universal plaudits, than which he cared for 
nothing less." * 

One may read between these awkward lines that all this 
learning was something to which Bruno had been introduced 
at school. Another short passage shows how new and 
strange this Latin culture seemed, and how he approached 
it with a timorous seriousness natural to one who did not 
well understand what it all meant : 

" The buffoonery and mimic talk in comedies and tragedies, 
which cause such laughter when recited by a number of people, he 
would always read seriously ; he took small count of the matter, 
but chiefly of authority, in literary compositions." 2 

Such an attitude would have been impossible for an 

panion. Nor did I worry, asking who will read it ; since I knew me for its reader, 
and as its lover, if it had none other " [Praeloq. vi. 26 ; Migne 136, col. 342). On 
Ratherius see Ebert, Ges. der Lit. hi. 375 sqq. 

1 Vita Brunonis, caps. 4, 6. 2 Vita Brunonis, cap. 8. 



Italian cradled amid Latin or quasi-Latin speech and rem; 

The most curious if not original literary phenomenon' 
of the time of Bruno and his great brother was the nu« 
Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, a Saxon cloister supported k 
the royal Saxon house. The Abbess was a niece of tfo 
Emperor, and it was she who introduced Hrotsvitha to the 
Latin Classics, after the completion of her elementary studies 
under another magistra, likewise an inmate of the convent 
The account bears witness to the taste for Latin reading 
among this group of noble Saxon dames. Hrotsvitha soon 
surpassed the rest, at least in productivity, and became 
a prolific authoress. She composed a number of sacred 
legendae, in leonine or rhymed hexameters. 1 One of them 
gave the legend of the Virgin, as drawn from the Apocryphal 
Gospel of Matthew. She also wrote several Passiones or 
accounts of the martyrdoms of saints, and the story of the 
Fall and Repentance of Theophilus, the oldest poetic 
version of a compact with the devil. Quite different in 
topic was the Deeds of Otto I. (De gestis Oddonis f 
imperatoris), written between 962 and 967, likewise in 
leonine hexameters. It told the fortunes of the Saxon 
house as well as the career of its greatest member. 

Possibly more interesting were six moral dramas written 
in formal imitation of the Comedies of Terence. As an 
antidote to the poison of the latter, they were to celebrate 
the virtue of holy virgins in this same kind of composition 
which had flaunted the adulteries of lascivious women— so 
the preface explains. Again, Hrotsvitha's sources were 
legenda, in which Christian chastity, martyred though it be, 
triumphs with no uncertain note of victory. 2 These pious 
imitations of the impious Terence do not appear to have 
been imitated by other mediaeval writers : they exerted no 
influence upon the later development of the Mystery Play. 
They remain as evidence of the writer's courage, and of the 
studies of certain denizens of the cloister at Gandersheim. 

Besides this convent for high-born women, and such 

1 Cf. post, Chapter XXXIII. m. 

2 Enough will be found regarding Hrotsvitha and her works in Ebert, Aligns 
Ges. der Lit. hi. 285-329. 

chap, xiii ELEVENTH CENTURY : GERMANY 3 1 3 

monasteries as Fulda and St. Gall, an interesting centre of 
introduced learning was Hildesheim, fortunate in its bishops, 
who made it an oasis of culture in the north. Otwin, bishop 
in 954, supplied its school with books from Italy. Some 
years after him came that great hearty man, Bernward, of 
princely birth, who began his clerical career at an early age, 
and was made bishop in 992. For thirty years he ruled his 
see with admirable piety, energy, and judgment ; qualities 
which he likewise showed in affairs of State. He was a 
diligent student of Latin letters, one " who conned not only 
the books in the monastery, but others in divers places, 
from which he formed a goodly library of codices of the 
divines and also the philosophers." x His was a master's 
faculty and a master-hand, itself skilfully fashioning ; for 
not only did he build the beautiful cloister church of St. 
Michael at Hildesheim, and cause it to be sumptuously 
adorned, but he himself carved and painted, and set gems. 
Some of the excellent works of his hand remain to-day. 
His biographer tells of that munificence and untiring zeal 
which rendered Hildesheim beautiful, as one still may see. 
Yet, throughout, Bernward appears as consciously studying 
and gathering and bringing to his beloved church an art 
from afar and a learning which was not of his own people. 
The bronze work on the Bernward column in Hildesheim is 
thought to suggest an influence of Trajan's column, while 
the doors of Bernward's church unquestionably follow those 
of St. Sabina on the Aventine. This shows how Bernward 
noticed and learned and copied during his stay at Rome 
in the year 1001, when Otto III. was imperator and Gerbert 
was pope. 

Bernward's successor, Godehard, continued the good 
work. One of his letters closes with a quick appeal for 
books : " Mittite nobis librum Horatii et epistolas Tullii." 2 
Belonging to the same generation was Froumundus (fl. cir. 
1040), a monk of Tegernsee, where Godehard had been 
abbot before becoming bishop of Hildesheim. He was a 
sturdy German lover of the classics — very German. At one 

1 Vita Bernwardi, 6 (Migne 140, col. 397), by Thangmar, who was Bernward's 
teacher and outlived him to write his Life. 

2 Migne 141, col. 1229. 


time he writes for a copy of Horace, apparently to complete 
his own, and at another for a copy of Statius ; other letters 
refer to Juvenal and Persius. 1 His ardour for study is as 
apparent as the fact that he is learning a literature to which 
he was not born. His turgid hexameters sweat with effort 
to master the foreign language and metre. People would 
have made a priest of him ; not he : 

" Cogere me certant, fatear, quod sim sapiens vir," 

and a good grin seems to escape him : 

" Discere decrevi libros, aliosque docere : 

from such work no difficulty shall repel me ; be it my reward to be 
co-operator (synergus) with what almighty God grants to flourish 
in this time of Christ, or in the time of yore." 2 

The spirit is grand, the literary result awful. With 
diligence, the studious elite of Germany applied themselves 
to Latin letters. And in the course of time tremendous 
scholars were to rise among them. But the Latin culture 
remained a thing of study ; its foreign tongue was never as 
their own ; and in the eleventh century, at least, they used 
it with a painful effort that is apparent in their writings 
and the Germanisms abounding in them. There may come 
one like Lambert of Hersfeld, the famous annalist of the 
Hildebrandine epoch, who with exceptional gifts gains a 
good mastery of Latin, and writes with a conscious approach 
to quasi-classical correctness. The place of his birth and the 
sources of his education are unknown. He was thirty years 
old, and doubtless had obtained his excellent training in 
Latin, when he took the cowl in the cloister of Hersfeld 
in 1058. But the next year he made a pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem, and afterwards other journeys. He wrote his 
Annals 3 in his later years, laying down his pen in 1077, 
when he had brought the Emperor to Canossa. His was a 
practised hand, and his style the evident result of much 

1 See Froumundus, Ep. 9, 11, 13 (Migne 141, col. 1288 sqq.). A number of 
his poems are published by F. Seiler, Zeitschrift fiir deutsche Philologie, Bd. 14, 
pp. 406-442. 

2 Migne 141, col. 1292. I am not sure that I have caught Froumund's meaning. 

3 Mon. Ger. Scriptores, v. 134 sqq. (Migne, Pat. Led. 146, col. 1027 sqq.). 

chap, xiii ELEVENTH CENTURY : GERMANY 3 1 5 

study of the classics. His work remains the best piece of 
Latin from an eleventh-century German. 

Among German scholars of the period, one can find no 
more charming creature than Hermann Contractus, the 
lame or paralytic. His father, a Suabian count, brought 
the little cripple to the convent of Reichenau. It was in 
the year 1020. Hermann was seven years old. There he 
studied and taught, and loved his fellows, till his death 
thirty-four years later. His mind was as strong as his body 
was weak. He could not rise from the movable seat on 
which his attendant placed him, and could scarcely sit up. 
He enunciated with difficulty ; his words were scarcely 
intelligible. But his learning was encyclopaedic, his 
sympathies were broad : " Homo revera sine querela nihil 
humani a se alienum putavit," says a loving pupil who 
sketched his life. Evil was foreign to his nature. 
Affectionate, cheerful, happy, his sweet and engaging 
personality drew all men's love, while his learning attracted 
pupils from afar. 

" At length, after he had been labouring for ten days in a 
grievous pleurisy, God's mercy saw fit to free his holy soul 
from prison. I who was his familiar above the rest," says the 
biographer, " came to his couch at dawn of day, and asked him 
whether he was not feeling a little better. ' Do not ask me,' he 
replied, ' but rather listen to what I have to tell you. I shall 
die very soon and shall not recover : so to thee and all my friends 
I commend my sinful soul. This whole night I have been rapt in 
ecstasy. With such complete memory as we have for the Lord's 
Prayer, I seemed to be reading over and over Cicero's Hortensius, 
and likewise to be scanning the substance and very written pages 
of what I intended to write Concerning the Vices — just as if I 
had it already written. I am so stirred and lifted by this reading, 
that the earth and all pertaining to it and this mortal life are 
despicable and tedious ; while the future everlasting world and 
the eternal life have become such an unspeakable desire and joy, 
that all these transitory circumstances are inane — nothing at all. 
It wearies me to live.' " 1 

Was not this a scholar's vision ? The German dwarf 
cares for the Hortensius even as Augustine, from whose 
Confessions doubtless came the recommendation of this 

1 Vita Hermanni (Migne 143, col. 29). 


classic. The barbarous Latin of the Vita is so uncouth and 
unformed as to convey no certain grammatical meaning. 
One can only sense it. The biographer cannot write Latin 
correctly, nor write it glibly and ungrammatically, like a 
man born to a Latinesque speech. Hermann's own Latin 
is but little better. It approaches neither fluency nor style. 
But the scholar ardour was his, and his works remain — a 
long chronicle, a treatise on the Astrolabe, and one on 
Music ; also, perhaps, a poem in leonine elegiacs, " The 
Dispute of the Sheep and the Flax," which goes on for several 
hundred lines till one comes to a welcome caetera desunt. 1 

Thus, with a heavy-footed Teutonic diligence, the 
Germans studied the Trivium and Quadrivium. They 
sweated at Latin grammar, reading also the literature or the 
stock passages. Their ignorance of natural science was no 
denser than that of peoples west of the Rhine or south of 
the Alps. Many of them went to learn at Chartres or 
Paris. Within the mapped-out scheme of knowledge, there 
was too much for them to master to admit of their devising 
new provinces of study. They could not but continue for 
many decades translators of the foreign matter into their 
German tongue or German selves. In the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries they will be translators of the French 
and Provencal literatures. 

Even before the eleventh century, Germans were at work 
at Logic — one recalls Gerbert's opponent Otric ; 2 and some 
of them were engaged with dialectic and philosophy. 
William, Abbot of Hirschau, crudely anticipated Anselm in 
attempting a syllogistic proof of God's existence. 3 He died 
in 109 1, and once had been a monk in the convent of St. 
Emmeram at Ratisbon in Bavaria, where he may have 
known a certain monk named Othloh, who has left a unique 
disclosure of himself. One is sufficiently informed as to 
what the Germans and other people studied in the eleventh 
century ; but this man has revealed the spiritual conflict 
out of which he hardly brought his soul's peace. 

1 The writings of Hermannus Contractus are in Migne, Pat. Lot. 143. The 
poem is reprinted from Du Meril's Pofeies populaires ; a more complete text is in 
Bd. XL of the Zeitschrift fur deutsches Altertum. 

2 Ante, p. 291 sqq. 3 Prantl, Ges. Logik, ii. 83. 



Nothing is so fascinating in the life of a holy man as 
the struggle and crisis through which his convictions are 
established and his peace attained. How diverse has been 
this strife — with Buddha, with Augustine, with Luther, or 
Ignatius Loyola. Its heroes fall into two companies : in 
one of them the man attains through his own thought and 
resolution ; in the other he casts himself on God, and it may 
be that devils and angels carry on the fight, of which his 
soul is the battle-ground and prize. Nevertheless, the man 
himself holds the scales of victory ; the choice is his, and it 
is he who at last goes over to the devil or accepts the grace 
of God. This conflict, in which God is felt to aid, is still for 
men ; only its forms and setting change. Therefore the 
struggle and the tears, through which souls have won 
their wisdom and their peace, never cease to move us. 
Othloh, like many another mediaeval scholar, was disturbed 
over the sinful pleasure derived from Tully and Virgil, Naso 
and Lucan. But his soul's chief turmoil came from the 
doubts that sprang from his human sympathies and from 
moral grounds — can the Bible be true and God omnipotent 
when sin and misery abound ? The struggle through which 
he became assured was the supreme experience of his life : 
it fixed his thoughts ; his writings were its fruit ; they re- 
flect the struggle and the struggler, and present a psycho- 
logical tableau of a mediaeval German soul. 

He was born in the bishopric of Freising in Bavaria 
not long after the year 1000, and spent his youth in the 
monastic schools of Tegernsee and Hersfeld. His scholar- 
ship was made evident to men about him through his skill 
in copying texts in a beautiful script, ornamented with 
illuminations. In the year 1032 he took the monk's vows 
in the monastery of St. Emmeram at Ratisbon, which had 
been founded long before in honour of this sainted Frankish 
missionary bishop, who had met a martyr's death in Bavaria 
in the late Merovingian period. The annals of the monastery 
are extant. When the Ottos were emperors, grammatical 
and theological studies flourished there, especially under a 


certain capable Wolfgang, who died as Bishop of Ratisbon in 
994, and whose life Othloh wrote. The latter, on becoming 
a monk, received charge of the monastery school, which he 
continued to direct for thirty years. 1 Then he left, because 
some of the young monks had turned the Abbot against him; 
but after some years spent mainly at the monastery of Fulda, 
he returned to St. Emmeram's in 1063, where he died an 
old man ten or fifteen years later. From his youth he had 
been subject to illness, even to fits of swooning, and, writing 
in the evening of his days, he speaks of his many bodily 

As Othloh looked back over his life, his soul's crisis 
seemed to have been reached soon after he was made a 
monk. The wisdom brought through it came as the 
answer to those questionings which made up the diabolic 
side of that great experience. Othloh describes it in his 
Book concerning the Temptations of a certain Monk : 

" There was a sinful clerk, who, having often been corrected by 
the Lord, at last turned to the monastic life. In the monastery 
where he was made a monk he found many sorts of men, some of 
whom were given over to the reading of secular works, while some 
read Holy Scripture. He resolved to imitate the latter. The 
more earnest he was in this, the more was he molested by tempta- 
tions of the devil ; but committing himself to the grace of God, 
he persevered ; and when, after a long while, he was delivered, 
and thought over what he had suffered, it seemed that others 
might be edified by his temptations, as well as by the passages 
of Holy Scripture which had come to him through divine inspira- 
tion. So he began to write as follows : I wish to tell the delusions 
of Satan which I endured sleeping and waking. His deceits first 
confounded me with doubt as to whether I was not rash in taking 
the vow perilous of the monastic life, without consulting parents 
or friends, when Scripture bids us ' do all things with counsel.' 
Diabolic illusion, as if sympathizing and counselling with me, 
brought these and like thoughts. When, the grace of God re- 
sisting him, the Tempter failed to have his way with me here, 
he tried to make me despair because of my many sins. ' Do you 
think,' said he, ' that such a wretch can expect mercy from God 
the Judge, when it is written, Scarcely shall a righteous man be 
saved ? ' So he overwhelmed me, till I could no nothing but 

1 Cf. Endres, " Othloh's von St. Emmeram Verhaltnis zu den freien Kunsten," 
Philos. Jahrbuch, 1904. 


weep, and tears were my bread day and night. I protest, from 
my innermost heart, that save through the grace of God alone, 
no one can overcome such delusions. 

"When the Weaver of wiles failed to cause me utterly to 
despair, he tried with other arguments of guile to lead me to 
blaspheme the divine justice, suggesting thoughts, as if condoling 
with my misery : ' O most unhappy youth, whose grief no man 
deigns to consider — but men are not to blame, for they do not 
know your trouble. God alone knows, and since He can do all 
things, why does He not aid you in tribulation, when for love of 
Him you have surrendered the world and now endure this agony ? 
Have done with impossible prayers and foolish grief. The 
injustice of that Potentate will not permit all to perish.' These 
delusions were connected with what I now wish to mention : 
Often I was awakened by some imaginary signal, and would 
hasten to the oratory before the time of morning prayer ; also, 
and for a number of years, though I slept at night as a man 
sound in body, when the hour came to rise, my limbs were numb, 
and only with uncertain trembling step could I reach the Church. 

" One delusion and temptation must be spoken of, which I 
hardly know how to describe, as I never read or heard of anything 
like it. By the stress of my many temptations I was driven — 
though by God's grace I was never utterly torn from faith and 
hope of heavenly aid — to doubt as to Holy Scripture and the 
essence of God himself. In the struggle with the other tempta- 
tions there was some respite, and a refuge of hope remained. 
In this I knew no alleviation, and when formerly I had been 
strengthened by the sacred book and had fought against the darts 
of death with the arms of faith and hope, now, shut round with 
doubt and mental blindness, I doubted whether there was truth 
in Holy Scripture and whether God was omnipotent. This broke 
over me with such violence as to leave me neither strength of 
body nor strength of mind, and I could not see or hear. Then 
sometimes it was as if a voice was whispering close to my ear : 
' Why such vain labourings ? Can you not, most foolish of 
mortals, prove by your own experience that the testimony of 
Scripture is without sense or reason ? Do you not see that what 
the divine book says is the reverse of what the lives and habits 
of mankind approve ? Those many thousands who neither 
know nor care to know its doctrine, do you think they err ? ' 
Troubled, I would urge, as if against some one questioning and 
objecting : ' How then is there such agreement among all the 
divinely inspired writings when they speak of God the Founder 
and of obedience to His commands ? ' Then words of this kind 
would be suggested in reply : ' Fool, the Scriptures on which 
you rely for knowledge of God and religion speak double words ; 


for the men who wrote them lived as men live now. You know 
how all men speak well and piously, and act otherwise, as advan- 
tage or frailty prompts. From which you may learn how the 
authors of the ancient writings wrote good and religious sayings, 
and did not live accordingly. Understand then, that all the 
books of the divine law were so written that they have an outer 
surface of piety and virtue, but quite another inner meaning. 
All of which is proved by Paul's saying, The letter killeth ; the 
spirit, that is the meaning, maketh to live. So you see how 
perilous it is to follow the precepts of these books. Likewise 
should one think concerning the essence of God. And besides, 
if there existed any person or power of an omnipotent God there 
would not be this apparent confusion in everything, — nor would 
you yourself have had all these doubts which trouble you.' ' 

The last diabolically insidious suggestion was ijust the 
one to bring despair to the unaided reason seeking faith. 
Othloh's soul was passing through the depths ; but the path 
now ascends, and rapidly : 

" I was assaulted with an incredible number of these delusions, 
and so strange and unheard of were they that I feared to speak of 
them to any of the brothers. At last I threw myself upon the 
ground groaning in bitterness, and, collecting the forces of my 
mind, I cried with my lips and from my heart : ' O if thou art 
some one, Almighty, and if thou art everywhere, as I have read 
so often in so many books, now, I pray, show me whom thou art 
and what thou canst do, delivering me quickly from these perils ; 
I can bear this strife no more.' I did not have to wait ; the grace 
of God scattered the whole cloud of doubt, and such a light of 
knowledge poured into my heart that I have never since had to 
endure the darkness of deadly doubt. I began to understand 
what I had scarcely perceived before. Then the grace of know- 
ledge was so increased that I could no longer hide it. I was urged 
by ineffable impulse to undertake some work of gratitude for the 
glory of God, and it seemed that this new ardour should be de- 
voted to composition. So I wrote what I have written concerning 
those diabolic delusions which sprang from my sins, and then 
it seemed reasonable to tell of the divine inspiration by which 
my mind was enabled to repel them ; so that he who reads these 
delusions may at the same time know the workings of the divine 
aid, and not ascribe to me a victory which was never mine, or, 
thinking that aid was lacking in my temptation, fear lest it fail 
in his. I remember how often, especially on rising in the mornings, 
it was as if there was some one rising with me and walking with 
me, who mutely warned, or gently persuaded me to amend faults 


which it may be only the day before I was ignorantly committing 
and deeming of no consequence. 

" When surrounded by such inspirations I would enter the 
Church and bow down in prayer — God knows that I do not He — 
it seemed as if some one besought me with like earnestness of 
prayer, saying : ' As that has been granted which you asked of 
me, it will be precious to me if you will obey my entreaties. Do 
you not continue in those vices which I have often begged you 
to abandon ? are you not proud and carnal, neglectful of God's 
service, hating whom you should not hate, although the Scripture 
says, Every one who hates his brother is a murderer ? Where 
now is the patience and constancy and that perfection which you 
promised God, if He would deliver you from perils and make you 
a monk ? God has done as you asked, why do you delay to pay 
your vow ? You have asked Him to set you in a place where 
you would have a store of books. Lo, you have been heard ; 
you have books — from which you may learn of life eternal. 
Why do you dissipate your mind in vanities and do not hasten 
to take the desired gift ? You have also asked to be tried, and 
tried you have been in temptation, and delivered. Yet you are 
still a man unfit for peace or war, since when the battle is far off 
you are ready for it, and when it approaches you flee. Which 
of the holy fathers that you have read of in the Old or New 
Testament was so dear to me that I did not seek to try him in the 
furnace of tribulation ? Blessed are those who suffer persecution 
for righteousness' sake. Steep and narrow is the way ; no one is 
crowned who has not striven lawfully. When you have read 
these, and many more passages of Scripture, why if you desire a 
crown of life eternal, do you wish to suffer no tribulation for your 
sins ? ' " 

Then the Spirit of God, with many admonishings, shows 
Othloh how easy had been his lot and how needful to him 
were his temptations, even the very carnal temptations of the 
flesh, which Othloh suffered in common with all monks. 
And he is bid to consider their reason and order : 

''•' First you were tried with fighter trials, that gradually you 
might gain strength for the weightier ; as you progressed you 
ascribed to your own strength what was wrought by my grace. 
Wherefore I subjected you to the final temptation, from which 
you will emerge the more certain of my grace the less you trust 
in your merits." 

The " warring opposites " of Othloh's spiritual struggle 
were, on the one side, evil thoughts and delusions from the 
vol. 1 Y 


devil, and, on the other, the strength and enlightenment 
imparted by the grace of God. The nearer the crisis comes, 
the clearer are the devil's whisperings and the warnings of 
the instructing voice. Othloh's part in it was his choice and 
acceptance of the divine counsellor. This conflict never 
faded from his mind. He has much to say of the visions x 
in which parts of his enlightenment had come. Once read- 
ing Lucan in the monastery, he swooned, and in his swoon 
was beaten with many stripes by a man of terrible and 
threatening countenance. By this he was led to abandon 
profane reading and other worldly vanities. These visionary 
floggings left him feeble and ill in body. They were the 
approaches to his great spiritual conflict. His " fourth 
vision " is in and of the crisis. This monk, immersed in 
spiritual struggles, had also his opinions regarding the 
government of the monastery, and for a time refused obedience 
to the abbot's irregular rulings, and spoke harshly of him : 

" For this I did penance before the abbot but not before God, 
against whom I had greatly sinned ; and after a few days I fell 
sick. This sickness was from God, since I have always begged of 
His mercy, that for any sin committed I might suffer sickness or 
tribulation, and so it has come to me. On this occasion, when 
weakness had for some days kept me in the infirmary, one evening 
as it was growing dark I thought I should feel better if I rose 
and sat by my cot. Immediately the house appeared to be filled 
with flame and smoke. Horror-stricken, my wonted trust in 
God all scattered, I started, tottering, towards the cot of the lay 
brother in charge, but, ashamed, I turned back and went to the cot 
of a brother who was sick ; he was asleep. Then I sank exhausted 
on my cot, thinking how to escape the horror of that vision of 
smoke. I had no doubt that the smoke was the work of evil 
spirits, who, from its midst, would try to torment me. As I 
gradually saw that it was not physical, but of the spirit, and 
that there was no one to help me, as all were asleep, I began to 
sing certain psalms, and, singing, went out and entered the nearest 
church, of St. Gallus, and fell down before the altar. At once, 
for my sins, strength of mind and body left me, and I perceived 
that my lips were held together by evil spirits, so that I could 
not move them, to sing a psalm. I tried till I was weary to open 
them with my hands. 

" Leaving that church, crawling rather than walking I gained 

1 Liber visionum. 


the great church of St. Emmeram, where I hoped for some allevia- 
tion of my agony. But it was as before ; I could barely utter a 
few words of prayer. So I painfully made my way back to my 
bed, hoping, from sheer weariness, to get some sleep. But none 
came, and, turn as I would, still I saw the vision of smoke. 
Suddenly — was I asleep or awake ? — I seemed to be in a field well 
known to me, surrounded by a crowd of demons mocking me with 
shrieks of laughter. The louder they laughed, the sadder I was, 
seeing them gathered to destroy me. When they saw that I 
would not laugh, they became enraged, crying, ' So ! you won't 
laugh and be merry with us ! Since you choose melancholy 
you shall have enough.' Then flying about me, with blows from 
all sides, they whirled me round and round with them over vast 
spaces of earth, till I thought to die. Suffering unspeakably, I 
was at length set down on the top of a peak which scarcely held 
me ; no eye could fathom its abyss. Vainly I looked for a descent, 
and the demons kept flying about me, saying : ' Where now is 
your hope in God ! And where is that God of yours ! Don't 
you know that neither God is, as men say, nor is there any power 
in Him which can prevail against us ? One proof of this is that 
you have no help, and there is no one who can deliver you from 
our hands. Choose now ; for unless you join with us you shall 
be cast into the abyss.' In this strait, scarcely consenting or 
resisting, I faintly remembered that I had once believed and read 
that God was everywhere, and so I looked around to see whether 
He would not send some aid. Now when the demons kept in- 
sisting that I should choose, and when I was well-nigh put to 
it to promise what they wished, a man suddenly appeared, and, 
standing by me, said : ' Do not do it ; all that these cheats say is 
false. Abide firm in that faith which you had in God. He knows 
all that you suffer, and permits it for your good.' Then he 
vanished, and the demons returned, flying about me, and saying : 
' Miserable man, would you trust one who came to deceive you ? 
Why, he dared not wait till we came ! Come now, yield yourself 
to our power.' 

" Uttering these words with fury, they snatched me up, and 
whirled me, sorely beaten, across plains and deserts, over heights 
and precipices, and set me on a yet more dreadful peak, hurling at 
me abuse and threats, to make me do their will. And, as before, 
I was near succumbing, and was looking around for some aid from 
God, when that same man again stood near, and heartened me. 
' Do not yield ; let your heart be comforted against its besiegers.' 
And I replied : ' Lord, I can no longer bear these perils. Stay 
with me, and aid, lest when you go away they torment me still 
more grievously.' To which he said : ' Their threats cannot 
prevail so long as you persevere in faith and hope in the Lord. 


Be comforted ; the sharper the strife, the quicker will it end. If 
with constancy you wage the Lord's battles, you shall have eternal 
rewards in the future, and in this world you shall be famous.' 

" Then he vanished the second time, and the demons, who 
dared do nothing in his presence, raged and mocked more savagely, 
and kept me in anguish, until, the divine grace effecting it, the 
convent bell rang for early prayer. I heard it as I lay in bed, and 
gradually gaining my senses, I was conscious that I was riving, 
and I no longer saw the vision of smoke. With gratitude I 
remembered what the man in my vision told me that my trial 
would soon be over. After this, though for many days I lay sick 
in body and soul, my spiritual temptations began to lessen ; and 
I have learned that without the Grace of God I am, and always 
shall be, a thing of naught." 

The struggle through which faith and peace came to 
Othloh became the fountain-head of his wisdom ; it fixed the 
point of view from which he judged life, and set the cate- 
gories in which he ordered his knowledge ; it directed his 
thoughts and imparted purpose and unity to his writings. 
His gratitude to God incited him to write in order that 
others might share in the light and wisdom which God's 
grace had granted him ; and his writings chiefly enlarge 
upon those questions which the victory in his spiritual 
conflict had solved. I will refrain from drawing further 
from them, although they seem to me the most interesting 
works of a pious and doctrinal nature emanating from any 
German of this still crude and inchoate intellectual period. 1 


From the point of view of the development of mediaeval 
intellectual interests in the eleventh century, England has 
little that is distinctive to offer. The firm rule of Canute 
(1016-1035) brought some reinstatement of order, after the 
times of struggle between Dane and Saxon. But his son, 
Hardicanute, was a savage. The reign of Edward the Con- 
fessor (1042-1066) followed. It wears a halo because it was 
the end of the old order, which henceforth was to be a 
memory. Then came the revolution of the Norman Conquest. 

1 Othloh's works are all in tome 146 of Migne's Patrologia Latina. 


Letters did not thrive amid these storms. At the beginning 
of the period, Dunstan is the sole name of note, as one who 
fostered letters in the monasteries where his energies were 
bringing discipline. English piety and learning looked 
then, as it had looked before and was for centuries to look, 
to the Continent. And Dunstan promoted letters by calling 
to his assistance Abbo of St. Fleury, of whom something 
has been said. 1 

In Dunstan's time Saxon men were still translating 
Scripture into their tongue — paraphrasing it rather, with a 
change of spirit. Such translations were needed in Anglo- 
Saxon England, as in Germany. But after the Conquest 
the introduction of Norman-French tended to lessen at 
least the consciousness of such a need. That language, as 
compared with Anglo-Saxon, came so much nearer to Latin 
as to reduce the chasm between the learned tongue and the 
vernacular. The Normans had (at least in speech) been 
Gallicized, and yet had kept many Norse traits. England 
likewise took on a Gallic veneering as Norman-French 
became the language of the Court and the new nobility. 
But the people continued to speak English. The degree of 
foreign influence upon their thought and manners may be 
gauged by the proportion of foreign idiom penetrating the 
English language ; and the fact that English remained 
essentially and structurally English proves the same for 
England racially. In spite of the introduction of foreign 
elements, people and language endured and became more 
and more distinctively English. 

In the island before the Conquest, the round of studies 
had been the same as on the Continent ; and that event 
brought no change. The studies might improve, but would 
have no novel source to draw upon. And in this period 
of racial turmoil and revolution, it was unlikely that the 
Anglo-Saxon temperament would present itself as clearly as 
aforetime in the Saxon poem of Beowulf or the personality 
of the Saxon Alfred*, or in the Saxon Genesis and the 
writings of Cynewulf. 2 In a word, the eleventh century 
in England was specifically the period when the old 
traits were becoming obscure, and no distinct modifica- 

1 Ante, Chapter XII. n. 2 Ante, Chapters VIII., IX. 


tions had been evolved in correspondence with the new 
conditions. Consequently, for presentations of the intel- 
lectual genius of the English people, one has to wait until 
the next century, the time of John of Salisbury and other 
English minds. Even such will be found receiving their 
training and their knowledge in France and Italy. England 
was still intellectually as well as politically under foreign 

In every way it has been borne in upon us how radically 
the conditions and faculties of men differed in England, 
Germany, France, and Italy in the eleventh century. Very 
different were their intellectual qualities, and different also 
was the measure of their attainment to a palpable mediaeval 
character, which in Italy was not that of the ancient Latins, 
in France was not that of the Gallic provincials, and in 
England and Germany was not altogether that of the 
original Celtic and Teutonic stocks. Neither in the eleventh 
century nor afterwards was there an obliteration of race 
traits ; yet the mediaeval modification tended constantly 
to evoke a general uniformity of intellectual interest and 
accepted view. 

There exists a certain ancient Chronicon Venetum written 
by a Venetian diplomat and man of affairs called John the 
Deacon, who died apparently soon after 1008. x He was 
the chaplain of the Doge, Peter Urseolus, and the doge's 
ambassador to the emperors Otto III. and Henry II. The 
earlier parts of his Chronicon were taken from Paulus 
Diaconus and others ; the later are his own, and form a 
facile narrative, which makes no pretence to philosophic 
insight and has nothing to say either of miracles or God's 
Christian providence. Its interests are quite secular. John 
writes his Latin, glib, clear, and unclassical, just as he might 
talk his Venetian speech, his vulgaris eloquentia. There 
is no effort, no struggle with the medium of expression, 
but a pervasive quality of familiarity with his story 
and with the language he tells it in. These characteristics, 
it is safe to say, are not to be found, to a like degree, 

1 Printed in Migne, Pat. Lat. 139, col. 871 sqq. and elsewhere. For editions 
see Wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, 6th ed. i. 485. 


in the work of any contemporary writer north of the 

The man and his story, in fine, however mediocre they 
may be, have arrived : they are not struggling or apparently 
tending anywhither. The writing suggests no capacity in 
the writer as yet unreached, nor any imperfect blending 
of disparate elements in his education. One should not 
generalize too broadly from the qualities exemplified in 
this work ; yet they indicate that the people to which the 
writer belonged were possessed of a certain entirety of 
development, in which the component elements of culture 
and antecedent human growth and decadence were blended 
in accord. This old Chronicon affords an illustration of the 
fact that the transition and early mediaeval centuries had 
brought little to Italy that was new or foreign, little 
that was not in the blood, and little to disturb the con- 
tinuity of Italian culture and character which moved 
along without break, whether in ascending or descending 

Yet evidently the eleventh-century Italian is no longer a 
Latin of the Empire. For one thing, he is more individual- 
istic. Formerly the prodigious power of Roman govern- 
ment united citizens and subject peoples, and impressed a 
human uniformity upon them. The surplus energies of the 
Latin race were then absorbed in the functions of the 
Respublica, or were at least directed along common channels. 
That great unification had long been broken ; and the 
smaller units had reasserted themselves — the civic units of 
town or district, and the individual units of human beings 
upon whom no longer pressed the conforming influence of 
one great government. 

In imperial times cities formed the subordinate units of 
the Respublica ; the Roman, like the Greek civilization, was 
essentially urban. This condition remained. The civiliza- 
tion of Italy in the eleventh century was still urban, but 
was now more distinctly the civilization of small closely 
compacted bodies, which were no longer united. For the 
most part, the life, the thought, of Italy was in the towns ; 
it remained predominantly humanistic, taken up with men 
and their mortal affairs, their joys and hates, and all that 


is developed by much daily intercourse with fellows. Thus 
the intellect of Italy continued secular, interesting itself in 
mortal life, and not so much occupied with theology and 
the life beyond the grave. This is as true of the intellectual 
energies of the Roman papacy as it is of the mental activities 
of the towns which served or opposed it, according to their 

On the other hand, the intense emotional nature of the 
Italians was apt to be religious, and given to. despair and 
tears and ecstasy ; its love welled up and flung itself around 
its object, without the mediating ofhces of reason. If 
reflection came, it was love's ardent musing, rather than 
religious ratiocination. One does not forget that the Italians 
who became scholastic theologians or philosophers left 
Italy, and subjected themselves to northern spiritual influ- 
ences at Paris or elsewhere. Their greatest were Anselm, 
Peter Lombard, Bonaventura, Thomas Aquinas. None of 
these remained through life altogether Italian. 

Thus, with Italians, religion meant either the papal 
government and the daily conventions of observance and 
minor mental habits, all very secular ; or it meant that which 
was a thing of ecstasy and not of thought — generally speak- 
ing, of course. The mediaeval Italian (in the eleventh 
century only to a slightly less degree than in the twelfth or 
thirteenth) is, typically speaking, a man of urban human 
interests and affairs, a politician, a trader, a doctor, a man of 
law or letters, an artist, or a poet. If really religious, his 
religion is an emotion, and is not occupied with dogma, nor 
interested in doctrinal correctness or reform. Such a 
religious character may, according to individual temper, 
result in a Romuald 1 or a Peter Damiani ; its perfected 
ideal is Francis of Assisi. 

Things were already different in the country now called 
France. No need to repeat what has been said as to the 
lesser strength and somewhat broken continuity of the 
antique there, as compared with Italy. Yet there was a 
sufficient power of antique influence and descent to keep the 
language Romanesque, and the forms of its literature partly 
set by antique tradition. But the spirit was not Latin. 

1 Post, Chapter XVII. 


Perhaps it had but seemed such with the Gallic provincials. 
At all events, the incoming Franks and other Germans 
brought a Teutonic infusion and reinspiration that forever 
kept France from being or becoming a northern Italy. 

Neither was the spirit urban. To be sure, much of the 
energy of French thought awoke and did its work in towns ; 
and Paris was to become the intellectual centre. But the 
stress of French life was not so surely in the towns, nor 
men's minds so characteristically urban as in Italy, and 
by no means so predominantly humanistic. Even in the 
eleventh century the lofty range of French thought, of 
French intellectual interests, is apparent ; for it embraces 
the problems of philosophy and theology, and does not find 
its boundary and limit in phenomenal or mortal life. Gerbert 
is almost too universal an intellect to offer as a fair example. 
Yet all that he cared for is more than represented by some- 
what younger men taken together ; for Gerbert did not fully 
represent the interests of religious thought in France. His 
was the humanism and the thirst for all the round of 
knowledge included in the Seven Arts. But he scarcely 
reached out beyond logic to philosophy ; and theology did 
not trouble him. Both philosophy and theology, however, 
made part of the intellectual interests of France ; for there 
were Berengar and Roscellinus, Gaunilo and St. Anselm, 
and the wrangling of many disputatious, although over- 
whelmingly orthodox, councils of French Churchmen. 
Paris also, with its great schools of theology and philosophy, 
looms on the horizon. The intellectual matter is but in- 
choate, yet universally germinating, in the eleventh century. 

Thus intellectual qualities of mediaeval France appear 
inceptively. The French mediaeval temperament needs 
perhaps another century for its clear development. Both as 
to temperament and intellectual interests, a line will have to 
be drawn between the south and north ; between the land of 
the langue d'oc, the Roman law, the troubadour, and the 
easy, irreligious, gay society which jumped the life to come ; 
and the land of the various old French dialects (among 
which that of the Isle de France will win to dominance), the 
land of philosophy and theology, the land of Gothic archi- 
tecture and religion, the hearth of the crusades against the 


Saracen or the Albigensian heretic ; the land of the most 
distinctive mediaeval thought and strongest intellectual 

In the Germany and the England of the eleventh 
century there is less of interest from this point of view. 
England had scarcely become her mediaeval self ; the time 
was one of desperate struggle, or, at most, of tumultuous 
settling down and shaking together. As for Germany, it 
was surely German then, and not a medley of Saxon, Dane, 
and Norman-French. The people were talking in their 
German tongues. German song and German epos were 
already heard in forms which were not to be cast aside, but 
retained and developed ; of course the influence of the 
French poetry was not yet. The Germans were still living 
their own sturdy and half -barbarous life. Those who loved 
knowledge had turned with earnest purpose to the Latin 
culture ; they were studying Latin and logic, and, as we 
have said, translating it into their German tongue or tempera- 
ment. But the lessons were not fully mastered — not yet 
transformed into German mediaeval intellectual capacity. 
And in this respect, at least, the German will become more 
entirely his Germanic mediaeval self in another century, 
when he has more faculty of using the store of foreign know- 
ledge in combination with his strongly felt and honestly 
considered Christianity. 



I. The Crusades. 
II. Towns and Guilds. 

The Crusades may profitably be regarded as a phase in 
the mediaeval development, and at the same time as a 
chapter in the long story of the effect of the Orient upon the 
West. Eastern influences have always been complex, and 
historians have found difficulty in distinguishing their fruit 
from much that was more properly the product of the native 
and progressive energies of Europe. When and where do 
they begin ? It is only our ignorance that would commence 
with the Phoenicians and their western voyages, or with 
the Greeks living under oriental influences on the islands 
or the coasts of Asia Minor. The data are subtile, intricate, 
ubiquitous, indistinguishable, especially from the time when 
Hellenism with its oriental elements becomes the informing 
spirit of taste and knowledge for the Latins. Christianity 
enters, also from the East, not Greek in origin, but passing 
westward through Hellenic media. If afterwards under 
the barbarization of the West, Hellenism seems to sink away, 
one knows that it had become very part of that Roman 
Christian civilization which was being barbarized. Through 
the following centuries the West according to its opportunities 
and capacities still draws from the East, styles of architecture 
for example, as at Ravenna, or at Lyons, or at Aix-la- 
Chapelle where the only surviving building of the Carolingian 
period is a replica of the Byzantine Church of St. Vitale at 



Ravenna. Through the earlier Middle Ages Byzantine 
currents never ceased to affect church building and decora- 
tion, and in the twelfth century the great Byzantine mosaics 
bloom anew in Norman Sicily, while Venice rises from her 
lagoons half Byzantine, if still Italian. 1 

With the advance of life and wealth and industry and 
thought in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the West 
became more efficiently receptive, and the currents from the 
East seem to take on new vigour; trade routes were thronged, 
cities were springing up along them, people were journeying 
farther, mental as well as physical horizons were expanding. 
Along those new routes, and into those new-grown cities, 
more wares were passing ; which also meant that more wares 
from the East were being carried westward in Genoese, 
Pisan, and Venetian bottoms, to where the land and river 
transport opened northerly and westerly through France, 
Germany, and the Low Countries. This is also the very 
time of those hostile counter-movements from West to East, 
known as the Crusades ; which resulted in some transient 
European advance on Asia, and then in greatly increased 
intercourse between the West and the Greek and Moslem 
East, with mutual assimilation of views and habits at the 
borders where Moslem and western Christian populations 
met and stained each other. A returning Asiatic invasion 
followed, destined for centuries to oppress the eastern half 
of Europe and wrest enormous territories from Christianity. 

In their inception the Crusades iwere holy wars for the 
recovery of the Holy Land : they never entirely lost the 
religious motive. One must, however, be on guard against 
attaching too fine a meaning to the words " holy " and 
" religious." There always had been wars, and wars of 
conquest. With whom should wars be waged if not with 
hostile aliens of different faith ? Was the war against 
Attila in the fifth century other than a holy war against 
heathen ? And the wars of Charles Martel and Charle- 
magne, whether with Arabs toward the south, or with 
Saxons on the north and east, were they not holy wars, 
either to drive back the heathen, or conquer them and 
bring them within the pale of Frankish domination ? Con- 

1 Cf. C. Diehl, Manuel d'art byzantin, pp. 668-691 (Paris, 1910). 

chap, xiv THE CRUSADES 333 

version by the sword was an essential part of this subjuga- 
tion. When at the close of the eleventh century the heathen 
were not so close at hand in western Europe, the West began 
a series of distant holy wars. They were a result of all the 
conditions of the time, an expression of the social situation. 
The religious motive led, was indeed the torch which fired 
the whole train of feudal, economic, fanatical combustibles. 
All sorts of people joined ; the impecunious and the criminal ; 
the religious and the adventurous, surplus younger sons and 
great feudal lords and princes whose territories would have 
been the better for the master's hand at home. Many a 
fief was pledged to equip the baron and his men on this far 
war which would yield him adventure and the joy of battle, 
win him eastern lands and slaves and plunder, and bring 
him salvation when he fell. 

Jerusalem was won and held for eighty years (1099-1181). 
And when it was lost, the " Franks," as the East called 
them, with Venetians and Genoese who had aided in the 
business, still held the line of trading towns along the coast 
of Syria, while the sea-power and commercial marine also 
remained in Christian hands. More Crusaders from the 
West launched themselves upon the Moslem. With some 
the fiercest motive was still to win Jerusalem — a holy motive 
in that holiest of mediaeval kings, St. Louis, who died at 
Tunis on his second Crusade. Yet politics and commerce 
had gradually become dominant with Crusaders ; and the 
conduct of the enterprises became more completely lay. 
From the time of Urban II.'s great preaching at Clermont 
in 1095 the popes had not ceased to urge the holy war ; and 
the furtherance of these enterprises had provided opportunity 
for their interference in the affairs of king and count and 
baron throughout Christian lands. Incitements, promises, 
threats, and excommunications, employed for this holy end, 
strengthened the powers of the papacy. Yet the control 
of the Crusades at length passed from papal hands. Innocent 
III., perhaps the most powerful of all the popes, failed to 
retain it. The Venetians beat him : in opposition to his 
will, in the face of his excommunications, they turned the 
crusading force against the island of Zara for their private 
ends ; and then Venetians, Frenchmen, Flemings united in 


the capture of — Constantinople ! And the pope acquiesced. 1 
This was in 1204. Some twenty-five years later the ex- 
communicated Emperor Frederic II. obtained Jerusalem, 
with many commercial advantages, by treaty from the 
Saracens ; and while he was entering the Holy City, the 
soldiers of Pope Gregory IX. were invading his dominions in 

So the management of the Crusades, even as their 
motives and results, became political and commercial. At 
all events their effects on western Europe pertained entirely 
to this world — unless the increase of the papal power be 
deemed an other-worldly fact. One may imagine what 
sudden expansion of Mediterranean shipping was evoked 
by the repeated call to transport and victual and support 
armies upon armies from the West. If men and horses 
sometimes went by land (commonly to their destruction) 
supplies were still transported from Marseilles or Genoa or 
Venice. Only such powerful maritime republics could cope 
with these emergencies and profit by them. 

Yet those Italian maritime republics were rapidly rising 
in power and prosperity irrespective of the opportunity for 
trade-expansion brought by the Crusades. Indeed, viewing 
the industrial advance, the growth of cities, the increase 
in wealth as well as knowledge, marking the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries, one is tempted to regard not only the 
Crusades themselves, but even their effect upon the West, 
as very part of these progressive conditions. It was not the 
paynim East that sent its wares, customs, knowledge, to 
the West ; the West came and got what the East had to 
offer, acting as discoverer, appropriator, and carrier of these 
matters. Asia has rarely sent its wares to Europe ; Europe 
has ever gone to fetch them. 

So indeed one will hesitate to regard the Crusades as the 
cause of an advance in European civilization. Here as 
always it is safer to speak of the conditions and the many 
causes making for such an advance. Viewed in their results 
the Crusades were partially successful attempts on the part 
of a feudal society to conquer and colonize : they represent 

1 See the whole story admirably told by A. Luchaire, Innocent III. : la 
question dSOrient (Paris, 1907). 

chap, xiv THE CRUSADES 335 

also the rising commercial energies of western Europe, 
expanding through the eastern Mediterranean and the 
surrounding lands, then pushing backwards more vigorously 
through the west, along old routes or new, planting fresh 
cities, feeding the growth of old ones and through exchange 
of wares increasing the effective wealth of every land. 
In turn, conquest, colonization, trade expansion, with stimu- 
lated cupidity and curiosity, led to an increase of knowledge 
of the earth and its peoples. If the Arabs contributed from 
their (borrowed) stores of astronomy, mathematics, and 
medicine, still larger was the passive role held by the Orient 
in the advance of European culture. Through the Crusades 
the western peoples came in contact with a civilization 
different from their own ; new fields of study were suggested, 
the oriental languages for example ; from which of course 
many words passed into the western tongues, just as new 
plants and fruits and hand-made wares passed westward, — 
but in European bottoms. The Crusades also did not fail 
to inspire literature. The Historia transmarina of William 
of Tyre x is second to no other history in the Middle Ages ; 
the Cycle of the Crusades enriched the store of narrative 
poetry, while ever and anon the soul of lyric genius was 
moved by longing for that far holy enterprise whose symbol 
was the Cross. 2 


Towns and guilds in the Middle Ages were the creatures 
of the mediaeval faculty of industrial association. Their 
growth represents the means as well as measure of the civic 
and industrial advance which swept, with constantly en- 
larging currents, from the opening of the twelfth century 
on through the thirteenth and into the fourteenth, till 
checked by the Hundred Years' War between France and 
England and the coming of the Black Death. The need of 
privileged exemption from the exactions of the feudal lord 

1 Migne, Patrologia Latina, tome 201. 

2 See post, p. 553 sqq. ; also the Crusader's song of Hartmann von Aue, post, 
p. 365, or the yearning of Walter von der Vogelweide, post, Chapter XXVII. 
The article by Ernest Barker on the Crusades in the eleventh edition of the Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica is excellent. 


was the basic raison d'etre of the town in France, England, 
Germany, if not in Italy. The guild was the closer protective 
association of merchants or craftsmen. With the twelfth 
century both the one and the other seem to spring into being. 1 
Their quick development was due to contemporary condi- 
tions ; and one gains scant explanation of these chief 
manifestations of the industrial energies of the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries by attempting to explore their ante- 

In ways complex and obscure beyond the possibility of 
exposition, that intricate ensemble of personal protection 
(or oppression) and dependency known as the feudal system 
established itself, apparently destroying and superseding the 
civic institutions of the Roman Empire. In France, Ger- 
many, England, where the old site and decaying walls still 
held some huddled denizens, hardly a vestige of municipal 
organization remained to differentiate the status of these 
denizens from other serfs or freemen of the land. In the 
twelfth century the population of the old urban centres 
increased ; and many new towns of moderate size arose. 
The industrial class which stocked them, increasing with 
growing trade and improving handicraft, needed personal 
freedom and protection for the fruits of industry. Associ- 
ated effort was the means by which these traders and 
artisans were to attain this end. Such protective association 
took the forms of towns and guilds, advancing toward 
municipal independence or corporate coherency. This 
came about in many different ways ; and even within the 

1 A. Luchaire, in his Introduction to Les Communes frangaises (1890), speaks 
thus : " En France, comme dans la plupart des regions de l'Europe feodale, les 
institutions populaires se sont developpees assez tardivement. Sauf de rares 
exceptions, le peuple urbain et rural n'a pas d'histoire avant le debut du Xlle 
siecle. C'est alors seulement que les actes d'afEranchissement, les concessions de 
libertes, les chartes de commune deviennent assez nombreux pour forcer l'attention 
des classes privilegiees et leur apprendre que la couche inferieure de la societe, 
surgissant des bas-fonds du servage, demande sa place au soleil, ose mime aspirer 
a l'existence politique. Mais si le peuple n'entre en scene qu'apres l'Eglise et la 
noblesse, il se dedommage rapidement du temps perdu. Le Xlle et le XIII e 
siecle ont vu se produire ce mouvement merveilleux d' emancipation qui donna la 
liberte aux serfs, crea les bourgeoisies privilegiees et les communes independantes, 
fit sortir de terre les villes neuves et les bastides, affranchit les corporations de 
marchands et d'ouvriers, en un mot placa du premier coup, a cote de la royaute, 
de la feodalite et de l'Eglise, une quatrieme force sociale destinee a absorber un 
jour les trois autres." 

chap, xiv TOWNS AND GUILDS 337 

same country at the same time there were stages and varieties 
of urban organization. The corporate existence of the town 
was based on privileged exemption ; x industrial monopoly 
was its aim and the aim of any merchant guild or craft guilds 
within it. 

Let us imagine a feudal seignory at some time prior to 
the twelfth century, somewhere say in the heart of the 
present France. It covers many miles of territory. Prob- 
ably there is a central stronghold of the lord. Within or 
around it may be groups of men, or families, engaged in 
some sort of productive labour, perhaps combined with 
trade. Many of them may be serfs, or if freemen there will 
still be scant restriction on the lord's seignorial rights as 
against their persons and over the ground they occupy. 
All these people, few or many, grouped or scattered, do not 
form a town or commune, for they possess no corporate 
privileges : as a body they have not won from their lord 
any general surrender of his ordinary seignorial rights, — his 
taxes fixed or arbitrary, his annual rents, his share in the 
crops or cattle, his rights over trade and the holding of 
markets and fairs, over the exercise of the crafts, and to 
tolls innumerable from those who would travel by road or 
river, or cross a bridge, or carry merchandise to or from a 

1 This seems true for the regions comprised under the present names of England, 
France, and Germany, as may be seen from the following citations from English, 
French, and German authorities speaking of the towns in their respective lands. 
" The history of constitutional progress in any town is . . . the history of the 
particular steps by which the inhabitants secured immunity from various dis- 
abilities." W. Cunningham, English Industry and Commerce, p. an, vol. i. 5th ed. 

" A l'etat individuel, le vilain, meme affranchi, reste impuissant et annihile 
dans le seigneurie oil il est fixe. II ne commence a compter que lorsqu'il fait 
par tie d'une communauti. La communaute populaire, a son tour, ne devient une 
force sociale que lorsqu'elle est privilegUe, et que la collection de ses habitants, 
formant corps, echappe (en partie du moins) a Sexploitation seigneuriale, qui est 
le droit commun. Elle arrive enfin a la dignite de puissance politique, lorsqu'elle 
devient ville libre, c'est-a-dire lorsque ses habitants, lies entre eux par une associa- 
tion assermentee, constituent collectivement une seigneurie et entrent a ce titre 
dans la hierarchie feodale." A. Luchaire, Manuel des institutions francaises, p. 
353 (1892). 

G. von Below, in Das alter e deutsche Stddtewesen und Burgertum (1905), in the 
opening pages explains that the distinguishing marks of a town are the possession 
of a market, a fortified wall, special town jurisdiction, independence in town 
matters, municipal organization, privileges (not enjoyed by the country) in taxa- 
tion and military service, and freedom from tolls. Privilege (Vorrecht) enters all 
these features, and thus distinguishes the town. 



town. There were also the so-called " banalities," which 
required the people to use the forge, the mill, the press of 
the lord, paying for the service ; also rights of forced enter- 
tainment, and finally very lucrative rights over the ad- 
ministration of justice and the freely levied fines, which 
were the usual punishments. Still further oppressive rights 
existed over serfs and the land they tilled. 1 

In various ways and degrees of completeness, bringing 
one stage or another of corporate freedom, some of these 
groups of men bound together by occupation, interest, or 
oath, obtained privileges of exemption. The usual act of 
consummation was the granting of the charter, giving the 
townsmen corporate existence as a town, with free juris- 
diction over their acts and delicts as townsmen, and such 
immunity from the seignorial rights of their former master 
that they became a political or, if one will, feudal entity, 
a seignory, a corporate lordship, almost as their former 
master was himself a lord. 2 Thus the formation of a town 
represented emergence from serfdom or subjection, and the 
establishment of reciprocal obligations of lord and vassal. 
Such manner of coming into existence admits little direct 
heirship of Roman municipal institutions, and makes the 
mediaeval town a mediaeval creation. 

The above statements apply but lamely to the towns of 
Italy. True, their constitutions were not developed out of 
Roman municipal institutions. And yet, being Italian, they 
were the heirs of the great hereditas jacens of Roman Italy. 
That had been predominantly urban ; and as Italian 
civilization reasserted itself after its period of degeneracy 
and confusion it also showed itself urban, and proceeded to 
prove its power by attacking intrusive Germanic feudal 
elements, destroying some, accepting some, and in general 
effecting a compulsory transmuting of them into turbulent 
constituents of city life. The cities of Italy evinced a more 
various and complex life within their walls than con- 
temporary, northern towns, because they included a greater 
variety of human elements. Undoubtedly the conditions of 

1 See A. Luchaire, Manuel des institutions frangaises (1892), pp. 294 sqq. and 
especially pp. 335"35i- 

2 Cf. Luchaire, o.c, p. 402. But the town would remain a vassal of a lord, or 
of the king. Its lord usually was himself a vassal of a higher feudal dignitary. 

chap, xiv TOWNS AND GUILDS 339 

growth of the towns in England, France, and Germany varied 
to some extent within each country. More essentially 
variegating factors affected the growth of towns in Italy, 
racial differences for example, renewed invasions from 
without, the bodily presence of the papacy, a great variety of 
circumstance and situation ; also a more manifold genius 
for city life quickened these diverse conditions. 

Moreover there had been a general continuity of city 
life in Italy with which the North had nothing to compare. 
In Gothic, Lombard, Frankish times the Italian towns were 
squalid and harassed. But there they were, in Lombardy 
for example, where Milan could show a continuous existence 
scarcely second to that of Rome. The towns were storm- 
swept islands in a surging sea ; and in such islands the 
bishop was likely to be the rock of refuge. The population 
consisted of the Italian stocks rather than of the invading 
German. The Germans brought Feudalism in the making, 
and small and great they formed a somewhat anti-urban 
or at least anti-civic class, until they too were drawn within 
the dominating civic currents of Italy. The growth of city 
freedom was usually to consist in immunity from the 
domination of the Emperor or other royal ruler, and next 
from the rule of the bishop himself. The latter might be 
the Emperor's representative ; but he frequently was the 
episcopal nucleus of town administration, to which municipal 
immunities had been attached. Growth in civic freedom 
also lay in gaining mastery over the recalcitrant anti-civic 
class, who as feudal nobles held strongholds without the city 
or within. These with their followers in course of time were 
made into an upper class, capitani and valvassori, as they 
were called, in distinction from the industrial popolo. If 
they were disturbing elements they also added greatly to the 
variety of life and faculty within the city walls. Italian 
towns (our eyes are rather fixed on northern Italy) reached 
organization as communes generally in the eleventh century. 
Everywhere the mediaeval town included a number of 
industrial groups, which sometimes had been organized in 
societies before the town had obtained a charter or other- 
wise become a commune. Florence, for example, did not 
formally become a commune until the end of the eleventh 


century ; but there is evidence that the arti were organized 
before then, and had indeed conducted the government of 
the virtual city. Thus Florence seems to arise out of their 
federation. Usually an Italian town harked back to unhealed 
animosities and hostile divisions, which had been brought 
to some sort of warring co-existence within its walls. Oppos- 
ing factions and industrial groups were apt to consider 
themselves first. Their animosities were a barrier to civic 
sentiment which, on the other hand, was fostered by the 
hatred and fear of other towns or powers. 

The obscure origins of these industrial groups (we shall 
soon be calling them guilds) were vague, unintended, casual : 
definite assertions are likely to misstate such poor little 
unformed facts. In northern lands the Guild Merchant 
was the first to reach significance. In England, where it was 
of great moment, it admitted members of the crafts which 
were gradually forming into guilds. Its English history 
begins with the security and increase of trade brought by 
the Norman Conquest. At first a private society, it became 
an important privilege of the town and even part of its 
government in the twelfth century. 1 Its function was 
to regulate the town's trade monopoly, but its activities 
might extend to the control of every industry. Organized 
mediaeval trade and craft rested on monopoly. 2 The 
creation of craft guilds entitled to monopolize the making 
and selling of their wares, would seem to have weakened the 
Guild Merchant in England ; and during the fourteenth 
century this general organization controlling a monopoly of 
trade tended to separate into special trade and craft organiza- 
tions, each controlling the monopoly by its branch. 3 

The craft guilds (German Zunft or Ami, French metier) 
appear later than the Merchant Guild. Some would find 

1 In France in certain instances [e.g. that of St. Omer), the commune apparently 
grows out of the Merchant Guild. " II est hors de doute que les privileges com- 
merciaux accordes, des le X e et le XI e siecle, aux societes de marchands, ont ete, 
sur bien des points, l'origine des libertes posterieurement obtenues par les villes 
ou s'etaient form6es ces associations. Le gilde marchande fut souvent, en effet, 
le ressort principal de la revolution communale et devint la commune elle-meme 
par la simple extension du lien qui la constituait." Luchaire, Manuel, etc., p. 359. 

2 " Les hommes du moyen age ne connaissaient le travail industriel que sous 
le forme d'un privilege collectif, constituant un monopole en faveur du corps qui 
en etait investi." Luchaire, Manuel, etc., p. 360. 

3 Cf. C. Gross, The Gild Merchant (Oxford, 1890). 

chap, xiv TOWNS AND GUILDS 341 

their origin in groups of manorial workmen gradually 
acquiring freedom and organization ; * and others, for the 
towns of Italy and even those of France, would see in them 
continuations of the Roman collegia or schools of workmen ; 
while again, presumably for the north, they have been 
thought to revert to ancient heathen functions or associa- 
tions. One may remark that the natural tendency of men 
to associate will apply itself to any interest they have in 
common, especially where that interest can best be served 
through common action : moreover mediaeval society in all 
its parts rested upon claimed and accorded privilege. So 
the men of each industry meeting together as was natural, 
gradually organized themselves into craft guilds, to be 
composed of master workmen and apprentices when these 
societies became fully developed in the thirteenth century. 
In each town they monopolized the exercise of their trade 
or craft. They also concerned themselves with the moral 
and religious conduct of members, with the regulation of 
their hours of labour and the quality of the product. They 
became extremely numerous in certain large centres, such as 
Paris, where they were minutely specialized. 

Let us trace a little further the fortunes of the towns. 
In general their development was to conform to the role of 
industrial segregations within a predominantly feudal world. 
Divergences arose from the different political and social 
conditions in England and France and Germany and Italy ; 
also from the particular situation of each town and the 
genius for city life distinguishing the towns by race and 
country or from one another individually. Everywhere 
their ends had been reached under the dominant and often 
selfish leadership of the upper class within them, however 
that class may be named or constituted, e.g. the merchants, 
the patricians, the rich, the grandi. Gradually, by insistence, 
by riots, by revolts, and the strength of numbers, the lesser 

1 Luchaire, Manuel, etc., p. 361 sqq. There might be grouping and association 
of the serf or free workmen on an estate ; but it would be naturally in the towns 
that a corporate development would take place. E.g. at Chartres, about the 
mansions of the Count and bishop, artisans soon planted themselves, first as serfs, 
but with their condition improving gradually. Their numbers increase ; each 
trade has its quarter, butchers, saddlers, money-changers, jewellers. Levasseur, 
Hist, des classes ouvrieres, etc., i. p. 264. 


trades and crafts gained an important or dominant share 
in the city government. The time of this revolution was the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 1 

In the next stage, the political and municipal liberties 

of the towns declined or were destroyed, but from the 

action of very different agencies. In France the larger 

number of towns had been industrially enfranchised, but 

never constituted political entities. Those which did 

become free self-governing communes, chiefly in the north, 

found their freedom of small avail against the expanding 

power of the French monarchy in the thirteenth century. 

Sometimes the lower orders sought the royal intervention 

against the oppressive upper class, even as the intervention 

of the Counts of Flanders might be sought in towns within 

their feudal territories. There was frequent trouble in the 

towns of northern France and Flanders, and their political 

and financial affairs were fatally mismanaged. 2 Yet the 

liberties which these free communes lost, the bourgeoisie 

were in part to regain in the administration of the national 

government ; and this loss of liberties on the part of the 

communes did not prevent the economic and social progress 

of the industrial classes in towns which never had attained 

a like unstable independence. 3 

In England there was no such destruction of municipal 
liberties as came upon the Communes of northern France ; 
but in the progressive reign of Edward I., through the action 
of parliaments in which the towns were represented, their 
franchises were gradually transmuted into law common to 
the realm ; and the close protective ordinances of particular 
towns tended to widen into more national economic policies. 4 

1 Venice affords the particular exception, in her complicated course towards 
a formal commercial oligarchy ; and England is the national anomaly, for, from 
the fourteenth century, the government of English towns tended rather to centre 
in smaller and more strictly closed groups. See C. Gross, The Gild Merchant. 

2 " La commune a ete une institution assez ephemere. En tant que seigneurie 
reellement independante, elle n'a guere dure plus de deux siecles. Les exces des 
communiers, leur mauvaise administration financiere, leurs divisions intestines, 
l'hostilite de l'Eglise, la protection onereuse du haut suzerain et surtout du roi : 
telles ont ete les causes immediates de cette decadence rapide." A. Luchaire, 
Les Communes francaises, p. 288 (1890). 

3 Cf. Luchaire, o.c, p. 292. 

4 Cf. Cunningham, English Industry and Commerce, 5th ed., 1910, vol. i. p. 261 

chap, xiv TOWNS AND GUILDS 343 

In Germany town privileges had been won through the 
exertions of the larger merchants, who with other people of 
consequence constituted a circle of leading families within 
the town and conducted town affairs. For a while these 
patrician administrations proceeded satisfactorily ; but 
during the fourteenth century, discontent permeated the 
lesser orders of tradesmen and craftsmen, who by this time 
were organized in guilds and able to make their numbers 
felt in town affairs. Thereupon in a large proportion of 
German towns, the process of democratization advanced, 
either peaceably or with violence, until the lower orders had 
their will. Often the craft guilds became the ruling element 
in town administration. The towns retained their liberties 
and political influence for a long period through the weakness 
of the imperial government and its conflicts with the princes, 
and those of the latter with each other. They constantly 
enhanced their power through the formation of leagues for 
commercial or military purposes, and were the foyer for the 
development of administrative and commercial law through 
that politically divided land. 1 

In Italy, from Rome northward, we find parts of the 
same story with interesting differences. During the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries, the heroic age of the Italian Com- 
munes, very generally the exclusive town administration 
was wrested from the upper class, and the craft guilds became 
powerful in town affairs. But the towns were not to 
preserve their liberties ; for the fourteenth century opens 
the well-known story of the capture by successful condottieri, 
or by dynastic families, of the liberties of one after another 
of the north Italian towns. Venice is the well-known and 
most peculiar exception. But the story of the anomalous 
and fitful commune of Rome is also of curious interest. 
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries when for good 
or ill the papacy awed Europe, the popes, even Innocent III., 
were often fugitives from Rome ! And the power of the 

1 The mediaeval town, says Karl Lamprecht, vol. iv. p. 206 of his Deutsche 
Geschichte, was a closed economic body, which sought to fill its own needs by its 
own products, and tended toward a protective policy. But prohibitive protection 
was avoided in Germany through city leagues, which made commercial intercourse 
possible among their members. In the course of the fourteenth century the 
territorial powers were persuaded to fall in with the policy of the towns. 


popes over their own city was finally established at the closing 
of the great schism in the reign of Martin V. (1417-1431), 
a time when the liberties of so many Italian towns had 
fallen captive to local tyrannies, and also a time when the 
universal papal power was broken, and the popes were about 
to become local dynasts. 1 

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the towns of 
England, France, and Germany were sheer industrial centres, 
and the townspeople were taken up with trade and handi- 
craft. They had scant intellectual interests, but were very 
practically religious or superstitious, with dashes of coarse 
scepticism. Their thoughts did not represent the intellect- 
ually and spiritually best in the world, did not touch the 
higher reaches of the saint, the theologian-philosopher, or 
the romantic poet. In fine, town life in the Middle Ages 
did not contribute to what was loftiest in mediaeval thinking, 
or to what has proved most appealing in mediaeval romance, 
or was most sublimely or most subtly beautiful in mediaeval 
art, or even to what still may seem to have been most 
intimate and precious in mediaeval life. Hugo of St. Victor, 
Thomas Aquinas, or Bonaventura did not draw the substance 
of their meditations from the town, nor did they need the 
experiences of its promiscuous human intercourse to move 
them to the expression of their best. In romance, Lancelot 
and Guinevere, Tristan and Iseult, or if one will, the endless 
garrulity of a Benoit de St. More, had no dependence on the 
town. Art, which is skilful craft, is connected with industrial 
training, and perhaps the town's financial contribution 
might be needed for the building and decoration of a 
cathedral. But the inspiring thought and plan and meaning 
of the structure had more to do with cloistered meditations ; 
nor did the manifold intricacy of symbolic meaning guiding 
the sculpture and glass painting, spring from the daily jog 
and stir of concrete unsymbolic incidents which furnish 
thoughts for townsfolk. To be sure, certain genial details 
of decoration, like the representation of the crafts, were 
city-born ; but they were of little significance in the build- 
ing's scheme, just as the little span of mortal business is a 

1 This story is told by Pasquale Villari in the article on " The Roman Republic 
in the Middle Ages," Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. xxiii. p. 660 sqq. 

chap, xiv TOWNS AND GUILDS 345 

slight thing in the vista of the soul's endless bliss or misery. 
One need not look beyond the range of these instances for 
evidence of the fact that the most precious, the most typical 
and original elements of mediaeval life drew little inspiration 
from the towns. 

But again this view does not apply to Italy, where the 
matter of chief interest is the story of the towns, whether 
under aristocracies, democracies, or despotisms. Within 
them worked the strength of Italy for statecraft, art, culture, 
and the freeing of the human spirit. Italian civilization, the 
Italian habit of life, was urban ; and whatever thought or 
feeling or romance grew up in mediaeval Italy, could be 
found within the towns, and had its share if not its source 
in city life. Did not the Divina Commedia draw its human 
setting from the life and strife of towns and in towns attain 
to its inspired being ? But more especially Italian humanism 
was to be the fruit of towns, even as the Greek and Latin 
classics were ; and from city life, rather than from seclusion, 
the Italian humanists were to learn to understand them. 
The greater part of these humanists, especially as the Middle 
Ages close, were town-bred scholars, who perhaps might 
seek for a while a quiet retreat for their studies or to indulge 
that taste for country -life which is so unmistakably a 
city-child. Petrarch's literary delight in the solitude of 
Vaucluse or the quiet of Aqua was as city-bred and self- 
conscious as the pastoral poetry of the Alexandrian Theo- 



I. The Patristic Chart of Passion. 
II. Emotionalizing of Latin Christianity. 

The characteristic passions of a period represent the 
emotionalized thoughts of multitudes of men and women. 
Mediaeval emotional development followed prevailing ideas, 
opinions, convictions, especially those of mediaeval Chris- 
tianity. Its most impressive phases conformed to the tenets 
of the system which the Middle Ages had received from the 
Church Fathers, and represented the complement of passion 
arising from the long acceptance of the same. One may 
observe, first, the process of exclusion, inclusion, and enhance- 
ment, through which the Fathers formed a certain synthesis 
of emotion from the matter of their faith and the circum- 
stances of their environment ; and, secondly, the further 
growth of emotion in the Middle Ages. 

In the centuries immediately preceding and following 
the Christian era there took place a remarkable growth of 
the pathetic or emotional element in Greek and Roman 
literature. Yet during the same period Stoicism, the most 
respected system of philosophy, kept its face as stone, and 
would not recognize the ethical value of emotion in human 
life. 1 But the emotional elements of paganism, which were 
stretching out their hands like the shades by Acheron, were 

1 Cf. Taylor, Ancient Ideals, chaps, xv., xvi. ; Classical Heritage, chaps, ii., iii. 



not to be restrained by philosophic admonition, or Virgilian 
desine fata deum flecti sperare precando. And though the 
Stoic could not consent to Juvenal's avowal that the sense of 
tears is the best part of us, Neo-Platonism soon was to 
uphold the sublimated emotion of a vision transcending 
reason as the highest good for man. Rational self-control 
was disintegrating in the Neo - Platonic dialectic, which 
pointed beyond reason to ecstasy. That ecstasy, however, 
was to be super-sensual, and indeed came only to those who 
had long suppressed all cravings of the flesh. This ascetic 
emotionalism of the Neo-Platonic summum bonum was 
strikingly analogous to the ideal of Christian living pressing 
to domination in the patristic period. 

No need to say that the Gospel j.of Jesus jwas addressed 
to the heart as well as to the mind ; and for times to come 
the Saviour on the Cross and at its foot the weeping Mother 
were to rouse floods of tears over human sin, which caused 
the divine sacrifice. The words Jesus wept heralded a new 
dispensation under which the heart should quicken and the 
mind should guide through reaches of humanity unknown 
to paganism. This Christian expansion of the spirit did 
not, however, address itself to human relationships, but 
uplifted itself to God, its upward impulse spurning mortal 
loves. In its mortal bearings the Christian spirit was more 
ascetic than Neo-Platonism, and its elan of emotion might 
have been as sublimated in quality as the Neo-Platonic, but 
for the greater reality of love and terror in the God toward 
whom it yearned with tears of contrition, love, and fear. 

Another strain very different from Neo-Platonism con- 
tributed to the sum of Christian emotion. This was Judaism, 
which recently had shown the fury of its energy in de- 
fence of Jerusalem against the legions of Titus. Christians 
imbibed its force of feeling from the books of the Old 
Testament. The passion of those writings was not as the 
humanly directed passions of the Greeks. Israel's desire 
and aversion, her scorn and hatred, her devotion and her 
love, hung on Jehovah. " Do I not hate them, O Jehovah, 
that hate thee ? " This cry of the Psalmist is as Elijah's 
" Take the prophets of Baal ; let not one of them escape." 
Jewish wrath was a righteous intolerance, which would 


neither endure idolatrous Gentiles nor suffer idolaters in 
Israel. Moses is enraged by the sight of the people dancing 
before the golden calf ; and Isaiah's scorn hisses over those 
daughters of Israel who have turned from Jehovah's ways 
of decorum : " Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, 
and walk with stretched forth necks, and wanton eyes, 
mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet ; 
therefore Jehovah will smite with a scab the crown of the 
head of the daughters of Zion, and Jehovah will lay bare 
their secret parts." 

Did a like scorn and anger find harbourage in Him who 
likened the Pharisees to whitened sepulchres, and: with a 
scourge of small cords drove the money-changers from His 
Father's house ? At all events a kindred hate found an 
enduring home in the religion of Tertullian and Athanasius, 
and in the great Church that persecuted the Montanists at 
Augustine's entreaty, and thereafter poured its fury upon 
Jew and Saracen and heretic for a thousand years. 

Jehovah was also a great heart of love, loving His 
people along the ways of every sweet relationship understood 
by man. " When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and 
out of Egypt called my son hither." " Can a woman forget 
her sucking child, so as not to yearn upon the son of her 
womb ? Yea, these may forget, yet will I not forget thee." 
Again, Jehovah is the husband, and Israel the sinning wife 
whom He will not put away. 1 Israel's responding love 
answers : " My soul waits on God — My heart and flesh cry 
aloud to the living God — Like as the hart panteth for 
the water-brooks " ! Such passages throb obedience to 
Deuteronomy's great command, which Jesus said was the 
sum of the Law and the Prophets. No need to say that 
the Christian's love of God had its emotional antecedent in 
Psalmist and Prophet. Jehovah's purifying wrath of love 
also passed over to the Christian words, " As many as I 
love, I reprove and chasten." And " the fear of the Lord, 
which is the beginning of wisdom," found its climax in 
the Christian terror of the Judgment Day. 

The Old Testament has its instances of human love : 
Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel. There is Jacob's 

1 Hosea, i.-iii. 


love of Joseph and Benjamin, and Joseph's love, which 
yearned upon his brethren who had sold him to the 
Egyptians. The most loving man of all is David, with his 
love of Jonathan, " wonderful and passing the love of 
women," unforgotten in the king's old age, when he asks, 
" Is there yet any living of the house of Saul, that I may 
show him kindness for Jonathan's sake ? " To a later time 
belongs the Song of Songs. Beautiful, orientally sensuous, 
too glowing perhaps for western taste, is this utterance of 
unchecked passion. And its fortune has been the most 
wonderful that ever fell to a love poem. It became the 
epithalamion of the Christian soul married to Christ, an 
epithalamion which was to be enlarged with passionate 
thought by doctor, monk, and saint, through the Christian 
centuries. The first to construe it as the bridal of the Soul 
was one who, by an act more irrevocable than a monastic 
vow, put from him mortal bridals — Origen, the greatest 
thinker of the Eastern Church. Thus the passion of the 
Hebrew woman for the lover that was to her as a bundle 
of myrrh lying between her breasts, was lifted, still full of 
desire, to the love of the God-man, by those of sterile flesh 
and fruitful souls. 

Christianity was not eclecticism, which, for lack of 
principles of its own, borrows whatever may seem good. 
But it made a synthetic adoption of what could be included 
under the dominance of its own motives, that is, could be 
made to accord with its criterion of Salvation. What sort 
of synthesis could it make of the passions and emotions of 
the Graeco-Roman-Oriental- Jewish world ? That which was 
achieved by the close of the patristic period, and was to be 
passionately approved by the Middle Ages, proceeded partly 
in the way of exclusion, and partly by adding a quality of 
boundlessness to the emotional elements admitted. 

With the first conversions to the new religion, arose the 
problem : What human feelings, what loves and interests of 
this world, shall the believer recognize as according with his 
faith, and as offering no obstacle to the love of God and the 
attainment of eternal life ? A practical answer was given 
by the growth of an indeterminate asceticism within the 
Christian communities, which in the fourth century went 


forth with power, and peopled the desert with anchorites 
and monks. 

Ascetic suggestions came from many sources to the 
early Christians. Stoicism was ascetic in tendency ; Neo- 
Platonism ascetic in principle, holding that the soul should 
be purged from contamination with things of sense. Through- 
out Egypt asceticism was rife in circles interested in the 
conflict of Set and his evil host with Horus seeking 
vengeance for Osiris slain ; and we know that some of the 
earliest Christian hermits had been recluses devoted to the 
cult of Serapis. In Syria dwelt communities of Jewish 
Essenes, living continently like monks. Nevertheless, what- 
ever may have been the effects of such examples, monasticism 
developed from within Christianity, and was not the fruit of 
influences from without. 

The Lord had said, " My kingdom is not of this world " ; 
and soon enough there came antagonism between the early 
Churches and the Roman Empire. The Church was in 
a state of conflict. It behoved the Christian to keep 
his loins girded : why should he hamper himself with 
ephemeral domestic ties, when the coming of the Lord 
was at hand ? Moreover, the Christian warfare to the 
death was not merely with political tyranny, but against 
fleshly lusts. Such convictions, in men and women desirous 
of purifying the soul from the cravings of sense, might bring 
the thought that even lawful marriage was not as holy as 
the virgin state. The Christian's ascetic abnegation had 
as a further motive the love of Christ and the desire to help 
on His kingdom and attain to it, the motive of sacrifice for 
the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven ; for which one man 
must be burned, another must give up his goods, and a third 
renounce his heart's love. Ascetic acts are also a natural 
accompaniment of penitence : the sinner, with fear of hell be- 
fore him, seeks to undergo temporal in order to avoid eternal 
pain ; or, better, stung by love of the Crucified, his heart 
cries for flagellation. When St. Martin came to die he 
would lie only upon ashes : "I have sinned if I leave you a 
different example." l A similar strain of religious conviction 
is rendered in Jerome's "You are too pleasure-loving, brother, 

1 Sulpicius Severus, Epist. iii. 


if you wish to rejoice in this world and hereafter to reign 
with Christ." * 

So currents of ascetic living early began in Christian 
circles ; and before long the difficulty of leading lives of 
self-mortification within the community was manifest. It 
was easier to withdraw : ascetics must become anchorites, 
" they who have withdrawn." Here was reason why the 
movement should betake itself to the desert. But the 
solitary life is so difficult, that association for mutual aid 
will soon ensue ; and then regulations will be needed for 
these newly-formed ascetic groups. So anchorites tended to 
become coenobites ; monasticism has begun. 

In both its hermit and coenobitic phases, monasticism 
began in the East, in Syria and the Thebaid. It was 
accepted by the Latin West, and there became impressed 
with Roman qualities of order, regularity, and obedience. 
The precepts of the eastern monks were collected and 
arranged by Cassian, a native of Gaul, in his Institutes and 
Conlocations, between the years 419 and 428. And about 
a century afterwards, western monasticism received its 
type-form in the Regula of St. Benedict of Nursia (d. 543), 
which was approved by the authority of Gregory the Great 
(d. 604). 2 

By the close of the patristic period, monasticism had 

1 These words occur in Jerome's famous letter (Ep. xiv.), in which he exhorts 
the wavering Heliodorus to sever all ties and affections : " Do not mind the 
entreaties of those dependent on you, come to the desert and fight for Christ's 
name. If they believe in Christ, they will encourage you ; if they do not, — let 
the dead bury their dead. A monk cannot be perfect in his own land ; not to 
wish to be perfect is a sin ; leave all, and come to the desert. The desert loves 
the naked. O desert, blooming with the flowers of Christ ! O solitude, whence 
are brought the stones of the city of the Great King ! O wilderness, rejoicing 
close to God ! What would you, brother, in the world, — you that are greater 
than the world ? How long are the shades of roofs to oppress you ? How long 
the dungeon of a city's smoke ? Believe me, I see more of light ! Do you fear 
poverty ? Christ called the poor ' blessed.' Are you terrified at labour ? No 
athlete without sweat is crowned. Do you think of food ? Faith fears not 
hunger. Do you dread the naked ground for limbs consumed with fasts ? The 
Lord lies with you. Does the infinite vastness of the desert fright you ? In the 
mind walk abroad in Paradise. Does your skin roughen without baths ? Who 
is once washed in Christ needs not to wash again. And in a word, hear the 
apostle answering : The sufferings of the present time are not to be compared 
with the glory to come which shall be revealed in us ! " 

2 In my Classical Heritage, pp. 136-197, I have given an account of the origins 
of monasticism, and of its distinctive western features. There I have also set 
out the Rule of Benedict, with sketches of the early monastic character. 


become the most highly applauded practical interpretation 
of Christianity. Its precepts represented the requirements 
of the Christian criterion of Salvation applied to earthly life. 
Like all great systems which have widely prevailed and long 
endured, it was not negation, but substitution. If it con- 
demned usual modes of pleasure, this was because of their 
incompatibility with the life it inculcated. The Regula of 
Benedict set forth a manner of life replete with positive 
demands. Its purpose was to prescribe for those who had 
taken monastic vows that way of living, that daily round of 
occupation, that constant mode of thought and temper, 
which should make a perfected Christian, that is, a perfect 
monk. And so broad and spiritually interwoven were its 
precepts that one of them could hardly be obeyed without 
fulfilling all. Read, for example, the beautiful seventh 
chapter upon the twelve grades of humility, and it will be- 
come evident that whoever achieves this virtue will gain all 
the rest : he will always have the fear of God before his eyes, 
the terror of hell and the hope of heaven ; he will cut off the 
desires of the flesh ; he will do, not his own will, but the 
Lord's ; since Christ obeyed His Father unto death, he will 
render absolute obedience to his superior, obeying readily and 
cheerfully even when unjustly blamed ; in confession he will 
conceal no evil thought ; he will deem himself vilest of all, 
and will do nothing save what the regula of the monastery 
or the example of the elders prescribes ; he will keep from 
laughter and from speech, except when questioned, and then 
he will speak gently and humbly, and with gravity, in few 
words ; he will stand and walk with inclined head and looks 
bent on the ground, feeling himself unworthy to lift up his 
eyes to heaven : through these stairs of humility he will 
reach that perfect love of God which banishes fear, and will 
no longer need the fear of hell, as he will do right from habit 
and through the love of Christ. 

Having thus pointed out the way of righteousness, 
Benedict's regula gives minute precepts for the monk's 
conduct and occupation through each hour of the day and 
night. No time, no circumstance shall be left unguarded, 
or unoccupied with those acts which lead to God. Wise 
was this great prototypal regula in that its abundance of 


positive precepts kept the monk busy with righteousness, so 
that he might have no leisure for sin. Its prohibitions are 
comparatively unemphatic, and the monk is guided along 
the paths of righteousness rather than forbidden to go astray. 

Thus monk and nun were consecrated to a calling which 
should contain their whole desire, as it certainly demanded 
their whole strength. Was the monk a celibate because 
carnal marriage was denied him ? Rather he was wedded 
to Christ. If this is allegory, it is also close to literal truth. 
" Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and 
with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Is not love the 
better part of marriage ? And how if the Lord thy God has 
been a gracious loving figure here on earth, who loved thee 
humanly as well as divinely, and died for thee at last ? Will 
not the complete love required by the commandment become 
very ardent, very heart-filling ? Shalt thou not always yearn 
to see Him, fall at His feet, confess thy unworthiness, and 
touch His garment ? Is there any end to the compass of 
thy loving Him, and musing upon Him, and dwelling in His 
presence ? Dost thou not live with Him in a closer com- 
munion than the sunderances of mortality permit among 
men, or between men and women ? And if it be thou art a 
nun, art thou not as close to Him in tears and washing of 
those blessed feet, as ever was that other woman, who had 
been a sinner ? Thou shalt keep thy virginity for Him as 
for a bridegroom. 1 

But the great commandment to love the Lord thy 
God has an adjunct — " and thy neighbour as thyself." As 
thyself — how does the monk love himself ? why, unto Christ 
and his own salvation. He does not love his sinful pleasures, 
nor those matters of earth which might not be sins, had he 
not realized how they conflicted with his scheme of life. 
His love for a fellow could not recognize those pleasures 

1 Cyprian said in the third century, addressing himself to Christian virgins : 
" Dominus vester et caput Christus est ad instar ad vicem masculi " (De habitu 
virginum, 22). To realize how near to the full human relationship was this 
wedded love of Christ, one should read the commentaries and sermons upon 
Canticles. Those of a later time — St. Bernard's, for example — are the best, 
because they sum up so much that had been gathering fervour through the 
centuries. One might look further to those mediaeval instances that break 
through mysticism to a sensuousness in which the man Christ becomes an almost 
too concrete husband for ecstatic women. See post, Chapter XX. 

VOL. I 2 A 


which he himself had cast away. He must love his fellow, 
like himself, unto the saving, not the undoing, of him — be 
his true lover, not his enemy. This vital principle of 
Christian love had to recast pagan passion and direct the 
affections to an immortal goal. Under it these reached a 
new absoluteness. The Christian lover should always be 
ready to give his life for his friend's salvation, as for his own. 
So love's offices gained enlargement and an infinity of new 
relationship, because directed toward eternal life. 1 

Unquestionably in the monk's eyes passionate love 
between the sexes was mainly lust. Within the bonds of 
marriage it was not mortal sin ; but the virgin state was the 
best. Here, as we shall see, life was to claim its own and 
free its currents. Monasticism did not stop the human race, 
or keep men from loving women. Such love would assert 
itself ; and ardent natures who felt its power were to find in 
themselves a love and passion somewhat novel, somewhat 
raised, somewhat enlarged. In the end the love between 
man and woman drew new inspiration and energy from the 
enhancement of all the rest of love, which came with 

Evidently the great office of Christian love in a heathen 
period was to convert idolaters to the Faith. So it had 
been from the days of Paul. Rapidly Christianity spread 
through all parts of the Roman Empire. Then the Faith 
pressed beyond those crumbling boundaries into the barbarian 
world. Hereupon, with Gregory the Great and his successors, 
it became clear that the great pope is always a missionary 
pope, sending out such Christian embassies as Gregory sent 
to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. 

If conversion was a chief office of Christian love, the 

1 The whole Christian love, first the love of God and then the love of man, 
is felt and set forth by Augustine. " Thou hast made us toward thee, and 
unquiet is our heart until it rests in thee. . . . That is the blessed life to rejoice 
toward thee, concerning thee and because of thee. . . . Give me thyself, my God. 
. . . All my plenty which is not my God is need." With his love of God his love 
for man accords. " This is true love, that cleaving to truth we may live aright ; 
and for that reason we contemn all mortal things except the love of men, whereby 
we wish them to live aright. Thus can we profitably be prepared even to die for 
our brethren, as the Lord Jesus Christ taught us by His example. ... It is love 
which unites good angels and servants of God in the bond of holiness, joins us to 
them and them to us, and subjoins all unto God." These passages are from the 
Confessions and from the De Trinitate. 


great object of Christian wrath was unbelief. That existed 
within and without Christendom : within in forms of heresy, 
without in the practices of heathenism. Christian wrath 
was moved by whatever opposed the true faith. The 
Christian should discriminate : hate the sin, and love the 
sinner unto his betterment. But it was so easy, so human, 
from hating the sin to hate the obdurate sinner who could 
not be saved and could but harm the Church. One need 
not recount how the disputes of the Athanasian time 
regarding the nature of Christ came to express themselves 
in curses ; nor how the Christian sword began its slaughter 
of heretic and heathen. Persecution seemed justified in 
reason ; it was very logical ; broad reasons of Christian 
statecraft seemed to make for it ; and often a righteous 
zeal wielded the weapon. It had moreover its apparent 
sanction in Jehovah's destroying wrath against idolaters 
within and without the tribes of Israel. 

So the two opposites of love and wrath laid aside 
some of their grossness, and gained new height and compass 
in the Christian soul. A like change came over other 
emotions. As life lifted itself to further heights of holiness, 
and hitherto unseen depths of evil yawned, there came a 
new power of pity and novel revulsions of aversion. The 
pagan pity for life's mortality, which filled Virgil's heart, 
could not but take on change. There was no more 
mortality, but eternal joy and pain. Souls which had so 
unavailingly stretched forth their hands to fate, had now 
been given wings of faith. Yet death gained blacker terror 
from the Christian Hell, the newly-assured alternative of 
the Christian Heaven. The great Christian pity did not 
touch the mortal ebbing of the breath ; that should be 
a triumphant birth. But an enormous and terror-stricken 
pity was evoked by sin, and the thought of the immortal 
soul hanging over an eternal hell. And since all human 
actions were connected with the man's eternal lot, they 
became invested with a new import. So the Christian's 
compassion would deepen, his sympathy become more 
intense, although no longer stirred by everything that had 
moved his pagan self. With him fear was raised to a new 
intensity by other terrors than had driven the blood from 


pagan cheeks. His sense of joy was deepened also ; for 
a joy hitherto unrealized came from his new love of God 
and the God-man, from the assurance of his salvation, and 
the thought of loved human relationships never to end. 
So Christian joy might have an absoluteness which it 
never had under the pause-giving mortal limitations of 

Within the compass of pagan joyfulness there had been 
no deeper passion than the love of beauty. That had its 
sensuous phases, and its far blue heights, where Plato saw 
the beauty of order, justice, and proportion. For the 
Christian, the beauty of the flesh became a veil through 
which he looked for the beauty of the soul. If a face 
testified to the beauty of holiness within, it was fair. Better 
the pale, drawn visages of monk and nun than the red lip 
too quickly smiling. Feeling as well as thought should be 
adjusted to these sentiments. Yet Plato's realization of 
intellectual beauty found home within the Christian thoughts 
of God and holiness, indeed helped to construct them. 
This is clear with the Fathers. In the East, Gregory of 
Nyssa's passion for divine beauty was Platonism set in 
Christian phrase ; in the West, Augustine reached his 
thoughts of beauty through considerations which came to him 
from Greek philosophy * " Love is of the beautiful," said 
Plato ; " Do we love ought else ? " says Augustine. Both 
men shape their thoughts of beauty after their best ideals of 
perfection. Augustine's burn upward to the beauty of a 
God as loving as He is omnipotent ; Plato's had been more 
abstract. Augustine's Platonism shows the highest Greek 
thoughts of beauty and goodness changed into attributes of 
a personal God, who could be loved because He was loving. 

In these ways the loftier Christian souls suppressed, or 
transformed and greatened, the emotions of their natures. 
It was thus with those possessed of a faith that brought 
the whole of life within its dominance. There were many 
such. Yet the multitude of Christians ranged downward 
from such great obsession, through all stages of human 
half-heartedness and frailty, to the state of those whose 
Christianity was but a name, or but a magic rite. Always 

1 Cf. Classical Heritage, p. 123 sqq. 


preponderant in numbers, and often in influence and power, 
these nominal and fetichistic Christians would keep alive 
the loves and hates, the interests and tastes, the approvals 
and disapprovals, of paganism or barbaric heathenism, as 
the case might be. 


The patristic synthesis of emotion passed on entire and 
authoritative to the Middle Ages. It exercised enormous 
influence (usually in the way of compulsion, but sometimes 
in the way of repulsion) upon emotional phenomena both 
of a religious and a secular nature. Yet it was merely the 
foundation, or the first stage, of mediaeval emotional 
development. The subsequent stages were dependent on 
the conditions under which mediaeval attitudes of mind 
arose, very dependent upon the maturing and blending of 
the native traits of inchoate mediaeval peoples and upon 
their appropriation of Latin Christianity and the antique 

The northern races had been introduced to a novel 
religion and to modes of thought considerably above them. 
Their old conceptions were discredited, their feelings some- 
what distraught. Emotionally as well as intellectually they 
were confused. Turbid feelings, arising from ideas not 
fully mastered, had to clarify and adjust themselves. From 
the sixth to the eleventh century the crude mediaeval 
stocks, tangled but not blended, strange to the religion and 
culture which held their destinies, were not possessed of 
clear and dominant emotions that could create their own 
forms of expression. They could not think and feel as 
they would when their new acquirements had mellowed 
into faculty and temperament, and unities of character had 
once more emerged. 

Christianity and Latin culture were operative every- 
where, and everywhere tended to produce a uniform 
development. Yet the peoples affected by these common 
influences were kept unlike each other through varieties of 
environment and a diversity of racial traits which still 
showed clearly as the centuries passed. In consequence, 


the emotional development of these different peoples re- 
mained marked by racial characteristics, while also becom- 
ing mediaeval under the action of common influences. It 
proceeded in two parallel and partially mingling streams : 
the one of the religious life, the other of earth's desires. 
They may be observed in turn. 

Augustine represents the sum of doctrine and emotion 
contained in the Latin Christianity of the fifth century. 
However imperfectly others might comprehend his thought 
or feel the power of his grandly reasoned love of God, he 
established this love for time to come as the centre and 
the bound of Christian righteousness : " Virtus non est nisi 
diligere quod diligendum est." x He drew within this prin- 
ciple the array of dogma and precept constituting Latin 
Christianity. On the other hand, the practical embodiment 
of the patristic synthesis of human interests and emotions 
was monasticism, with its lines set by the Rule of Benedict. 

Pope Gregory the Great 2 refashioned Augustine's 
teachings, and placed the seal of his approval upon 
Benedictine monasticism as the perfect way of Christian 
living. His mind was darkened with the new ignorance 
and intellectual debasement which had come in the century 
and a half separating him from Augustine ; and his soul 
was filled with the fantastic terrors which were to constitute 
so large a part of the religion of the Middle Ages. Devil 
lore, relic worship, miracles, permeate his consciousness of 
life. The soul's ceaseless business is so to keep itself 
that it may at last escape the sentence of the awful Judge. 
Love and terror struggle fearfully in Gregory. Christ's 
death had shown God's love ; and yet the Dies Irae 
impends. No delict is wiped out without penitence and 
punishment, in this life or afterwards — let it be in Purgatory 
and not in Hell ! 

The centuries following Gregory's death rearranged the 
contents of Latin Christianity, including Gregory's teach- 
ings, to suit their own intellectual capacities. This (Caro- 
lingian) period of rearrangement and painful learning, as it 
was unoriginative intellectually, was likewise unproductive 
of Christian emotion. Occasionally from far-off converts, 

1 Augustine, Epp. 155, c. 13. 2 Ante, Chapter V. 


who are not troubled overmuch with learning, come utterances 
of simple feeling for the Faith (one thinks of Bede's story of 
Caedmon) ; and the Teuton spirit, warlike as well as intimate 
and sentimental, enters the vernacular interpretation of 
Christianity. 1 The Christian message could not be under- 
stood at all without a stirring of the convert's nature : some 
quickening of emotion would ensue. This did not imply a 
development of emotion corresponding to the credences of 
Latin Christianity, to which so many people had been newly 
introduced. That system had to be more vitally appropriated 
before it could arouse the emotional counterpart of its tenets, 
and run its course in modes of mediaeval religious passion. 

Accordingly one will look in vain among the Carolingian 
scholars for that torrential feeling which becomes articulate 
in the eleventh century. They were excerpting and re- 
arranging patristic Christianity to suit their own capacities. 
They could not use it as a basis for further thinking ; 
nor, on the other hand, had it become for them the ground 
of religious feeling. Undoubtedly, Alcuin and Rabanus 
Maurus and Walafrid Strabo were pious Christians, taking 
their Faith devoutly. But such religious emotion as was 
theirs, was reflected rather than spontaneous. Alcuin, as 
well as Gregory the Great, realizes the opposition between 
heaven and the vana delectibilia 2 of this world. But 
Alcuin's words have lost the horror - stricken quality of 
Gregory ; neither do they carry the floods of tears which 
like thoughts bring to Peter Damiani in the eleventh 
century. Odo, Abbot of Cluny in the middle of the tenth 
century, has something of Gregory's heavy horror ; but even 
in him the gift of tears is not yet loosed. 3 

From the eleventh century onward, the gathering 
religious feeling pours itself out in passionate utterances ; 
and in this new emotionalizing of Latin Christianity lay the 
chief religious office of the Middle Ages, wherein they went 
far beyond the patristic authors of their faith. The Fathers 
of the Latin Church from Tertullian to Gregory the Great had 
been occupied with doctrine and ecclesiastical organization. 

1 Ante, Chapter IX. 

2 Alcuin, Ep. 40 (Migne, Pat. Lat. ioo, col. 201). 

3 Cf. Odo's Collationes, in Migne 133, and Chapter XII. 11., ante. Gregory 
was Odo's favourite author. 


This dual achievement was the work of the constructive 
mind of the Latin West, following, of course, what had been 
accomplished by the Greek Fathers. It stood forth mainly 
as the creation of those human faculties which are grouped 
under the name of intellect. Patristic Latin Christianity 
hardly presents itself as the product of the whole man. Its 
principles were not as yet fully humanized, made matter of 
the heart, and imbued with love and fear and pity : this 
creature of the intellect had yet to receive a soul. 

It is true that Augustine had an enormous love of God. 
It was fervently felt ; it was powerfully reasoned ; it 
impassioned his thought. Yet it did not contain that 
tender love of the divinely human Christ which trembles 
in the words of Bernard and makes the life of Francis a 
lyric poem. St. Jerome also had even an hysterically 
emotional nature ; Tertullian at the beginning of the 
patristic period was no placid soul, nor Gregory the Great 
at its close. But it does not follow that Latin Christianity 
was as yet emotionalized, or that it had become a matter of 
the heart because it was accepted by the mind. Its dogmas 
and constructive principles were still too new ; the energies 
of men had been spent in devising and establishing them. 
Not yet had they been pondered over for generation after 
generation, and hallowed through time ; they had not yet 
become part of human life, cherished in men's hopes, fondled 
in their affections, frozen in their fears, trembled before 
and loved. 

What was absent from the formation of Latin Christianity 
constituted the conditions of its gradual appropriation by 
the Middle Ages. It had come to them from a greater 
past, sanctioned by the saints who now reigned above. 
Through the centuries, men had come to understand it, and 
had made it their own with power. Through generations 
its commands and promises, its threats and rewards, had 
been feared and loved. Its persons, symbols, and sacraments 
had become animate with human quality and were endeared 
with intimate incident and association. Every one had been 
born to it, had been suckled upon it, had adored it in child- 
hood, youth, and age : it filled all life ; with hope or menace 
it overhung the closing hour. 


The Middle Ages have been given credit for dry 
theologies and sublimated metaphysics. Less frequently 
have they been credited with their great achievement, the 
imbuing of patristic Christianity with the human elements 
of love and fear and pity. Yet their religious phenomena 
clearly display this emotionalizing of transmitted theological 
elements. Chapters which are to follow will illustrate it 
from the lives of many saints of different temperaments. As 
wide apart as life will be the phases of its manifestations. 
The tears of Peter Damiani are not like the love of the 
God-man in St. Bernard ; St. Francis's love of Christ and 
love of man is again different and new ; and the mystic 
thought-shot visions of a Hildegard of Bingen are as blue 
to crimson when compared with the sense-passion for the 
Bridegroom of a Mechthild of Magdeburg. Even as illus- 
trated in these so different natures, it will still appear that 
the emotional humanizing of Latin Christianity in the 
Middle Ages shaped itself to the tenets of the system 
formulated by the Church Fathers. It was an emotionalizing 
of that system, quite as much as a direct appropriation of 
the Gospel-heart of Christ. Christ and the heart of Christ 
were with the mediaeval saints ; and yet the emotions as 
well as thoughts through which they turned to Him received 
their form from patristic Christianity. 

Religious art plainly tells the story. Let one call to 
mind the character of its achievements in the fourth, fifth, 
and sixth centuries. That was the period following the 
recognition of Christianity as the religion of the Roman 
Empire. Everywhere basilicas arose. 1 Some of them may 
be seen in Rome, in Ravenna, in Constantinople. They 
still contain many of the mural mosaics which were their 
glory. Numberless artists laboured in the composition of 
those stately church decorations. There was a need, un- 
precedented and never afterwards paralleled, of creative 
composition. Spacious surfaces were to be covered with 
prefigurative scenes from the Old Testament, with scenes 
from the life of Christ on earth, and representations of His 

1 Before Constantine's reign there had been few Christian basilicas ; Christian 
art was sepulchral, drawing upon the galleries of the Catacombs, in meagre and 
monotonous designs, the symbols of the soul's deliverance from death. These 
designs were antique in style and poor in execution. 


apocalyptic triumph in the Resurrection. They had all to 
be composed without aid from previous designs, for there 
were none. The artists had need to be as constructive as 
the Church Fathers, who through the same period were 
perfecting the formulation of the Faith. They succeeded 
grandly, setting forth the subjects they were told to execute, 
in noble, balanced, and decorative compositions, which 
presented the facts and tenets of the Faith strikingly and 
correctly. Stylistically, these great church mosaics belonged 
to antique art. What did they lack ? Merely the human, 
veritably tragic, qualities of love and fear and pity, which 
had not yet come. Like the dogmatic system, this mosaic 
presentation was too recently composed. Its subjects were 
not yet humanized through centuries of contemplation, 
reverence, and love. 1 

Many of the early compositions, repeated from century 
to century, in time were humanized and transformed with 
feeling. But this was not in the seventh, eighth, and ninth 
centuries, when art was but a decadent and barbarized 
survival of the antique Christian manner, nor in the tenth 
and eleventh. One may note also that the mediaeval 
expression of Christian emotion was beginning in religious 
literature. This came with fulness in the twelfth century, 
and along with it the emotionalizing, the veritable human- 
izing, of religious art began. Yet the artists of western 
Europe still lacked the skill requisite for delicate execution. 
A marked advance came in the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries. That was the great period of Gothic architecture ; 
and in the sculpture on the French cathedrals, stone seems 
to live and feel. The prophetic figures from the Old 
Testament, the scenes of man's redemption and final 
judgment, are humanized with love and terror. Moreover, 
the sculptor surrounds them with the myriad subsidiary 
detail of mortal life and changing beauty, showing how 
closely they are knit to every human love and interest. 

In Italy a like story is told in a different manner. There 
is sculpture, but there also is mosaic, and above all there is 
and will be fresco. Before the end of the thirteenth century, 
Giotto was busy with his new dramatic art ; no need to tell 

1 See Taylor, Classical Heritage, chap. x. sec. 2. 


what power of human feeling filled the works of that chief 
of painters and his school. The hard materials of the 
mosaicist were also made to render emotion. If one will 
note the mosaics along the nave in Santa Maria Maggiore, 
belonging to the fifth century, and then turn to the mosaics 
of the Coronation of the Virgin in the apse, or cross the 
Tiber and look at those in the lower zone of the apse of 
Santa Maria in Trastevere, which tell the Virgin's story, he 
will see the change which was bringing love and sweetness 
into the stiff mosaic medium. Torrid executed the former 
in 1295 ; and the latter with their gentler feeling were made 
by Giotto's pupil, Cavallini, in 135 1. The art is still as 
correct and true and orthodox as in the fifth century. It 
conforms to Latin Christianity in the choice of topics and 
the manner of presenting them, and drapes its human 
emotions around conceptions which the patristic period 
formed and delivered to the Middle Ages. Thus, in full 
measure, it has taken to itself the emotional qualities of the 
mediaeval transformation of Latin Christianity, and is filled 
with a love and tears and pity, which were not in the old 
Christian mosaics. 

Quite analogous to the emotionalizing of Christian art 
is the example afforded by the evolution of the Latin hymn. 
The earliest extant Latin hymns are those of St. Ambrose, 
written in iambic dimeters. Antique in phrase as in metre, 
they are also trenchantly correct in doctrine, as behoved 
the compositions of the great Archbishop of Milan who 
commanded the forces of orthodoxy in the Arian conflict. 
They were sung in anxious seasons. Yet these dignified 
and noble hymns are no emotional outpour either of anxiety 
or adoration. Such feeling as they carry lies in their strength 
of trust in God and in the power of conviction of their stately 

Between the death of Ambrose and the tenth century, 
Latin hymns gradually substituted accent in the place 
of metrical quantity, as the dominant principle of their 
rhythm. With this partial change there seems to come 
increase of feeling. The 

" Jesu nostra redemptio, 
Amor et desiderium," 


of the seventh century is different from the 

" Te diligat castus amor, 
Te mens adoret sobria " 

of Ambrose. 1 And the famous pilgrim chant of the tenth 
century, " O Roma nobilis, orbis et domina," has the strength 
of long-deepening emotion. 2 

These hymns have but dropped the constraint of metre. 
Religious passion had not yet proved its creative power, and 
the new verse-forms with their mighty rhyme, fit to voice the 
accumulated emotions of the Liturgy, were not in existence. 
The eleventh and twelfth centuries witnessed the strophic 
evolution of the Latin hymn, in which feeling, joined with 
art, at last perfected line and stanza and the passionate 
phrases filling them. 3 Yet nothing could be more orthodox 
than the Latin hymn throughout its course of development. 
Its function was liturgical. It was correct in doctrinal 
expressions, and followed in every way the authoritative 
teachings of the Church ; its symbolism was derived from 
the works of learned doctors ; and its feeling took form 
from the tenets of Latin Christianity. The Dies Irae and the 
Stabat Mater yield evidence of this. 4 

From the religious phases of mediaeval emotion, one 
may pass to modes of feeling which were secular and human. 
The antecedents were again the racial traits of the peoples 
who were to become mediaeval ; the formative influences still 
are Christianity and the profane antique culture. The racial 
traits show clearest in vernacular compositions, some of 
which may carry fervent feeling, such as enkindles the 
Crusader's song of Hartmann von Aue : 

1 See Classical Heritage, p. 267, and cf. ibid. chap. ix. sec. 1. 

2 See post, Chapter XXXIII. n. 

3 The account of the evolution of the hymn from the prose sequence is given 
post, Chapter XXXIII. in. 

4 Further illustrations of the mediaeval emotionalizing of Latin Christianity 
could be made from the history of certain Christian conceptions, angels for example: 
— the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha contain the revelation of their 
functions ; next, their natures are defined in the works of the Fathers and the 
Celestial Hierarchy of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. The matter is gone over 
at great length, and their nature and functions logically perfected, by the school- 
men of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. But, all the while, religious feeling, 
popular credences, and the imagination of poet and artist went on investing with 
beauty and loveliness these guardian spirits who carried out God's care of man. 
Thus angels became the realities they were felt to be. 


" Min froude wart nie sorgelos 

Unz an die tage 
Daz ich mir Kristes bluomen kos 

Die ich hie trage. 
Die kundent eine sumerzit, 

Die also gar 
In suezer augenweide lit ; 

Got helfe uns dar. 

" Mich hat diu werlt also gewent (gewohnt), 

Daz mir der muot 
Sich z'einer maze nach ir sent : 

Dest mir nu guot. 
Got hat vil wol ze mir getan, 

Als ez nu stat, 
Daz ich der sorgen bin erlan 

Diu manegen hat 
Gebunden an den fuoz, 

Daz er beliben muoz 
Swenn' ich in Kristes schar 

Mit frouden wiinneclichen var." x 

The secular emotional development was connected with 
the religious. It was stimulated by the deepening of 
emotional capacity caused by Christianity, and was not 
unrelated to the Christian love of God, the place of which 
was taken, in secular mediaeval passion, by an idealizing, 
but carnal, love of woman ; and instead of the terror- 
stricken piety which accompanied the Christian's love for 
his Maker and his Judge, the heart was glad and the temper 
open to every joy, while also subject to the fears and hates 
which spring up among men of mortal passions. 

In the romantic and utter abandonment required of its 
votaries, this earthly love may well have drawn suggestion 

1 Hartmann belongs to that great group of courtly German poets whose lives 
surround the year 1200. He was the translator of Chretien de Troye's Erec 
and Ivain. See Bech's Hartmann von Aue (Deutsche Klassiker). The verses 
quoted can hardly be rendered ; but the meaning is as follows : 

" My joys were never free from care until the day which showed me the flowers 
of Christ which I wear here {i.e. the Crusader's cross). They herald a summer-time 
leading to sweet pastures of delight. God help us thither ! The world has treated 
me so that my spirit yearns therefor ; — well for me ! God has been good to me, 
so that I am released from cares which tie the feet of many, chaining them here, 
while I in Christ's band with blissful joys fare on." 

These lines carry that same yearning of the simple soul for heaven, its home, 
which was expressed, some centuries before, in Otfried's Evangelienbuch {ante, 
Chapter IX.). The words and their connotations (augenweide, wiinneclich) are 
utterly German. Yet the author lived in a literary atmosphere of translation from 
the French. 


from that boundless love of God which had superseded the 
Greek precept of " nothing in excess," teaching instead that 
no limit should be set on what was absolutely good. The 
principle of love unrestrained was thus inaugurated, and did 
not always turn to God. Ardent natures who felt love's 
power, might hold it as the supreme arbiter and law of life, 
and the giver of strength and virtue. These thoughts will 
shape the tale of Lancelot and myriad poems besides. They 
also may be found incarnate in the living instance : the 
heart of Heloise held a passion for her human master which 
she recognized as her highest law. It was such a passion as 
she would hardly have conceived but for the existence of 
like categories of devotion to the Christian God. Not in 
her nature alone, but through many Christian generations 
whereof she was the fruit, there had gone on a continual 
enhancement of capacities of feeling, for which she was a 
greater woman when she grew to womanhood and felt its 
passion. Through such heightening of her powers of loving, 
and through the suggestiveness of the Christian love of God, 
she could conceive and feel a like absolute devotion to a 
man. 1 

There were, moreover, partially humanized stages in 
which the love of God was affiliated with loves of mortal 
hue. Many a mediaeval woman felt a passionate love for 
the spiritual Bridegroom. Its expression, its suggestions, its 
training, might transmit power and passion to the love of 
very mortal men : while from the worship of the Blessed 
Virgin expressions of passionate devotion might pass over 
into poems telling man's love of woman. And what reaches 
of passion might not the Song of Songs suggest, although 
that imagined bridal of the Soul was never deemed a song 
of human love ? 2 

1 Post, Chapter XXVI. 

2 The makers of love poems borrowed expressions from poems to the Virgin. 
Cf. Wilmanns, Leben und Dichtung Walter's Von der Vogelweide, p. 179. Touches 
of mortal passion sometimes appear in the adoration of men for the Blessed 
Virgin. See Caesar of Heisterbach, vii. 32 and 50, and viii. 58. Of course, many 
suggestions were drawn also from the antique literature. See post, Chapter 
XXXIII. iv. The subject of courtly and romantic love will come up properly for 
treatment in Chapter XXIV. 






Mediaeval Extremes ; Benedict of Aniane ; Cluny ; Citeaux's 
Chart a Charitatis ; The Vita Contemplativa accepts 
the Vita Activa. 

The present Book and the following will set forth the 
higher manifestations of the religious energies of the Middle 
Ages, and then the counter ideals which knights and ladies 
delighted to contemplate, and sometimes strove to reach. 
In religious as well as mundane life, ideals admired and 
striven for constitute human facts, make part of the human 
story, quite as veritably as the spotted actuality everywhere 
in evidence. The tale of piety is to be gathered from those 
efforts of the religious purpose which almost attain their 
ideal ; while as a comment on them, and a foil and contrast, 
the deflections of human frailty may be observed. Likewise 
the full reality of chivalry lies in its ideals, supplemented by 
the illuminating contrast of failure and oppression, making 
what we may call its actuality. The emotional element, 
reviewed in the last chapter, will for the time be dominant. 

Practice always drops below the ethical standards of a 
period. The contrast appears in the history of Greece and 
Rome. Yet in neither Greece nor Rome could there exist 
the abysms of contradiction which disclose themselves after 
the conversion of western Europe to the religion of Christ. 

And for the following reasons. Greek and Roman stand- 
ards were finite ; they regarded only the mortal happiness 
of the individual and the terrestrial welfare of the State. 
To Greek thought the indefinite or limitless was as the 

vol. i 369 2 B 


monstrous and unformed ; and therefore abhorrent to the 
classic ideals of perfection. Again, Greek and Roman 
standards demanded only what Greek and Roman humanity 
could fulfil in the mortal life of earth. But the Christian 
ideal of conduct assumes the universal imperfection and 
infinite perfectibility of man. It has constant regard to 
immortality, and eternity is needed for its fulfilment. 
Moreover, whether or not Christ's Gospel set forth any 
inherent antagonism between the fulness of mortal life and 
the sure attainment of heaven, its historical interpretations 
have never effected a complete reconcilement. They have 
always presented a conflict between the finite and the 
eternal, unconceived and unsuspected by the pagan ethics 
of Greece and Rome. 

This conflict dawned in the Apostolic Age. During the 
patristic period it worked itself out to a formulated opposi- 
tion between the world and the City of God. Of this, 
monasticism was the chief expression. Nevertheless, pagan 
principle and feeling lived on in the reasonings and characters 
of the Church Fathers. The Roman qualities in Ambrose, 
the general survival of antique greatness in Augustine, 
preserved them from the rhetorical hysteria of Jerome and 
the exaggeration of phrase which affects the writings of 
Gregory the Great. 1 With the decadence preceding, and 
the confusion following, the Carolingian period, antique 
qualities passed away ; and when men began again to think 
and feel constructively, there remained no antique poise to 
restrain the strife of those mighty opposites — the joys of life 
and the terrors of the Judgment Day. 

This conflict, inherent in mediaeval Christianity, was in 
part a struggle between temporal desires which many men 
approved, and their renunciation for eternal joy. From this 
point of view it was a conflict of ideals, though, to be sure, 
life's common cravings were on one side, and often unideally 
turned the scale. We are not immediately concerned, how- 
ever, with this conflict of ideals ; but with the contrasts 

1 One will bear in mind that much mediaeval phraseology goes back to the 
Fathers. For example, in monkish vilification of woman there is no phrase 
more common than janua diaboli, and it was Tertullian's, who died in the first 
part of the third century. 


presented between the actual and the ideal, between conduct 
and the principles which should have controlled it. The 
opposition between this life and eternity is mentioned in 
order to make clear the tremendous demands of the Christian 
ethical ideal, and the unlikelihood of its fulfilment by 
mediaeval humanity. So one may perceive a reason why 
the Middle Ages were to show such extremes of contrast 
between principles and practices. The standards recognized 
as holiest countered the natural lives of men ; and for that 
reason could be lived up to only under transient spiritual 
enthusiasm or by exceptional people. Monasticism held 
the highest ideals of Christian living, and its story illustrates 
the continual falling away of conduct from the recognized 

Without regard to the contrast between the ideal and 
the actual, the Middle Ages were a period of extremes — of 
extreme humility and love as well as cruelty and hate. 
Such extremes may be traceable to a certain unlimited 
quality in Christian principles, according to which no man 
could have too much humility or Christian love, or could 
too strenuously combat the enemies of Christ. To be 
sure, an all-proportioning principle of conduct lay in man's 
love of God, answering to God's love which encompassed 
all His creatures. But such proportionment is difficult for 
simple minds, and many of the extremes which meet us 
in the Middle Ages were directly due to the simplicity 
with which mediaeval men and women carried out such 
Christian precepts as they were taken with, in disregard 
of all else that commonly balances and conventionalizes 
human lives. 

For this reason also the Middle Ages are picturesque 
and poetic. Nothing could be more picturesque and more 
like a poem than the simple absoluteness with which St. 
Francis interpreted and lived out his Lord's principle of 
love, and made universal application of his Lord's injunc- 
tion to the rich young man, to go and sell his goods and 
give to the poor, and then come follow Him. This particu- 
lar solution of the problem of God's service was taken by 
Francis, and by many another, as of general application, and 
was literally carried out ; just as Francis with exquisite 


simplicity carried out other precepts of his Lord in a way 
that would be foolishness were it not so beautiful. 

There was no contrast between conduct and principle 
in the life of Francis ; and in other men conduct might 
agree with such principles as they understood. Many a 
rustic layman, many a good knight, fulfilled the standards 
of his calling. Many a parish priest did his whole duty, as 
he conceived it. And many a monk and nun lived up to 
their monastic regula, if indeed never satisfying the inner 
yearning of the soul unquenchably striving for perfection. 
Indeed, for the monk ever to have been satisfied with him- 
self would have meant a fall from humility to vainglory. 

The precepts of the Gospel were for every man and 
woman. Nevertheless, the same rules of living did not 
apply to all. In this regard, mediaeval society falls into 
the two general divisions of clergy and laity, meaning by 
the former all persons making special profession of religion 
or engaged in the service of the Church. 1 This would 
include anchorites and monks (also the conversi 2 or lay- 
brethren) and the secular clergy from the rank of bishop 
downward. To such (excepting seculars below the grade 
of sub-deacon) the rule of celibacy applied, as well as other 
ascetic precepts dependent on the vows they had taken or 
the regulations under which they lived. Conversely, certain 
rules like those relating to the conduct of man and wife 
would touch the laity alone. 

A general similarity of principle pervaded the rules of 
conduct applying to all orders of the clergy, secular and 
regular. 3 Yet there was a difference in the severity of the 
rules and the stringency of their application. The mediaeval 
code of religious ethics applied in its utter strenuousness 
only to monks and nuns. They alone had seriously under- 
taken to obey the Gospel precept, estote perfecti ; and they 
alone could be regarded as living the life of complete 
Christian militancy against the world, the flesh, and the 
devil. The trials, that is to say the temptations, of this 

1 For the different meanings of the term clericus see Du Cange, Glossarium, 
under that word. 

2 For the meanings of this term also see Du Cange, Glossarium, under that 

8 Regular clergy are the monks, who live under a regula. 


warfare could be fully known only to the monk . ' ' Tentatio, ' ' 
says Caesar of Heisterbach, " est militia," i.e. warfare ; it is 
possible only for those who live humanly and rationally, 
after the spirit, which is to say, as monks ; " the seculars 
(i.e. the laity or possibly the clergy who were not monks) and 
the carnal (i.e. the laity) who walk according to the flesh, are 
improperly said to be tempted ; for as soon as they feel 
the temptation they consent, or resist lukewarmly, like the 
horse and the mule who have no understanding." x 

We have spoken of the inception of monasticism, and 
of its early motives, 2 which included the fear of hell, the 
love of Christ, and the conviction of the antagonism between 
pleasure and that service which opens heaven's gates. Such 
sentiments were likely to develop and expand. The fear 
of hell might be inflamed and made visible by the same 
imagination that festered over the carnality of pleasure ; 
the heart could impassion and extend the love of Christ 
through humanity's full capacity for loving what was holiest 
and most lovable ; and the mind could attain to an over- 
mastering conviction of the incompatibility of pleasure with 
absolute devotion. Through the Middle Ages these motives 
developed and grew together, until they made a mode of 
life, and fashioned human characters into accord with it. 
Century after century the lives of thousands fulfilled the 
monastic spirit, and often so perfectly as to belie humanity's 
repute for frailty. Their virtues shunned encomium. 
Record was made of those whose mind and energy organized 
and wrought, or whose piety and love of God burned so 
hotly that others were enkindled. But legion upon legion 
of tacit lives are registered only in the Book with seven 

Monastic abuses have usually spoken more loudly than 
monastic regularity. In Christian monasticism there is an 
energy of renovation which constantly cries against corrup- 
tion. Its invective reaches us from all the mediaeval 
centuries ; while monastic regularity has more commonly 
been unreported. It is well to bear this in mind when 

1 Dialogus miraculorum, ed. J. Strange, iv. i. (Cologne, 1851). Of course 
Caesar was a monk. 

2 Ante, Chapter XV. 


reading of monastic vice. It always existed, and judging 
from the fiery denunciations which it awakened, it was 
often widely prevalent. In fact, the monastic life required 
such love of God or fear of hell, such renunciation of this 
world, its ambitions, its lusts and its lures, that monks 
were likely to fall below the prescribed standards, and then 
quickly into all manner of sin, from lack of the restraints, 
or outlets, of secular life. 

Consequently the most patent history of monasticism 
is the history of its attempts to reform and renew itself. Its 
heroes come before us as reformers or refounders, whose 
endeavour is to reinstitute the perfect way, impassion men 
anew to follow it, by added precepts discipline them for 
its long ascents, and so occupy them in the practice of its 
virtues that all distracting impulses may perish. Their 
apparent endeavour (at least until the day of Francis of 
Assisi) is to renew a life from which their contemporaries 
have fallen away. And yet through all there was uncon- 
scious innovation and progress. 

The greater part of the fervent piety of the Middle 
Ages dwelt in cloisters, when not drawn forth unwillingly to 
serve the Lord in the world. Mediaeval saints were, or 
yearned to be, monks or nuns. Consequently monastic 
reforms, as well as attempts to raise the condition of the 
secular clergy, emanated from within monasticism. Its own 
rules of living had been set from within by Benedict of 
Nursia, and others who were monks. There was much 
irregularity at first ; but the seventh and eighth centuries 
witnessed the conflict between different types of monastic 
organization, and then the general victory of the Benedictine 
regula. This was also a victory for monastic reform ; for 
moral looseness, accompanied by heathenish irregularities, 
easily penetrated cloisters when not protected by a common 
and authoritative rule. As it was, the energy of Benedictine 
uniformity seemed exhausted in the contest. 

But a Benedictine refounder arose. This was the high- 
born Witiza of Aquitaine, the ascetic virtuosity of whose 
early life had won him repute. Assuming the name of 
Benedict, he established a monastery on the bank of the 
little Aniane, in Aquitaine, in the year 779. His foundation 


flourished in righteousness and increased in numbers, till it 
drew the attention of Alcuin and Charlemagne to its abbot. 
Benedict was given the task of reforming the monasteries 
of Aquitaine. Afterwards Louis the Pious extended his 
authority ; till in 817 a reforming synod, over which he 
presided, was held at Aix, and the king's authority was 
attached to its decrees. All Frankish monasteries were 
therein commanded to observe the regula of Benedict of 
Nursia, with many further precepts set by him of Aniane, 
aggravating the severity of the older rule ; for example, by 
enforcing a more rigid silence among the monks when at 
labour, and restricting their intercourse with the laity. 
Great stress was laid upon the labours of the field. There 
was little novelty in the work of this reorganizer, with his con- 
sistent ascetic contempt for profane literature. His labours 
were typical of those of many a monastic reformer after him, 
who likewise sought to re-establish the strictness of the old 
Benedictine rule, and in fact added to its austerities. 

The next example of reform is Cluny, founded in the 
year 910. Its cloister discipline followed the regula of 
Benedict with the additions decreed by the synod of Aix. 
Under Odo (d. 942) Majolus (d. 994) and Odilo (d. 1048) it 
rose to unprecedented power and influence. Mainly because 
of the winning and commanding qualities of its abbots, it 
received the support of kings and popes ; its authority and 
privileges were increased, until it became the head of more 
than three hundred cloisters distributed through France, 
Italy, Germany, and Spain. In ecclesiastical policy it 
stood for decency and reform, but without giving extreme 
support to either emperor or pope. Balance and temperance 
characterized its career. It was a monastic organization 
which by precept and example, and by the wide supervising 
powers it received from the papacy and from temporal 
authorities, promoted regularity and propriety of life among 
monks, and also among the secular clergy. The " reforms 
of Cluny " do not represent any specific intensifying of 
monastic principles, but rather the general endeavour of 
the better elements in Burgundian and French monasticism 
to overcome the crass secularization of the Church, within 
and without the cloister. Cluny's influence told generally 


against monastic degradation, rather than in favour of any 
special ascetic or ecclesiastic policy. The prevailing simony, 
the clerical concubinage, the rough and warlike ways of 
bishops and abbots were all corruptions standing in the way 
of any monastic or ecclesiastical improvement ; and Cluny 
opposed them, in moderation however, and with considerable 
acquiescence in the apparently necessary conditions of the 
time. 1 

After the comparative strictness of its first abbots, 
Cluny's discipline moderated almost to laxity ; and the 
interests of the rich and magnificent monastery became 
elegant and somewhat secular. It still maintained monastic 
decencies while not going beyond their demands. Its face 
was no longer set against comfortable living, nor against art 
and letters. And the time came when fervent spirits 
demanded a more uncompromising attack upon the world 
and the flesh. 

Such came from Citeaux (near Dijon), where a few 
monks founded a struggling monastery in 1098. Its 
fortunes were small and feeble until the time of its third 
abbot, the Englishman, Stephen Harding (1109-1134), 
whose genius set the lines of Citeaux's larger destinies. 
Her great period began when, shortly after Harding's 
entrance on his abbacy, there arrived a band of well-born 
youths, led by one Bernard. Then of a truth the cloister 
burned with ardour. Its numbers grew, and Bernard was 
sent with a Cistercian band to found a daughter monastery 
at Clairvaux (1115). 

Like Stephen Harding, Bernard was an ascetic, and the 
Cistercian Order represents a stern tightening of the reins 
which Cluny left lying somewhat slackly upon the backs 
of her stall-fed monks. 2 Controversies arose between the 
Cluniac Benedictines and the Cistercian Benedictines insist- 
ing on a stricter rule. Bernard himself entered into heated 
controversy with that great temperate personality of the 
twelfth century, Peter the Venerable, Cluny's revered lord. 

The original regula of Benedict provided an admirable 

1 See Sackur, Die Cluniacenser, etc., passim, and Bd. II. 464 (Halle, 1892). 

2 On the differences between Cluny and Citeaux see Vacandard, Vie de St 
Bernard, chap. iv. (2nd ed., Paris, 1897), and Zockler, Askese und Monchtum, 
2nd ed. pp. 406-415 (Frankfurt a. M., 1897). 


constitution for the single monastery, but no plan for the 
supervision of one monastery by another. The mediaeval 
advance in monastic organization consisted in the authorita- 
tive supervision of subordinate or " daughter " foundations 
by the superior or primal monastery of the Order. The 
Abbot of Cluny exercised such authority over Cluniac 
foundations, as well as over monasteries which, at the 
instance of the secular lord of the land, had been re- 
organized by Cluny. 

The Cistercian Order represents a less monarchical, or 
more decentralized subordination, on a plan similar to the 
feudal principle of sub-infeudation, whereby the holder of 
the fief owed his duties to his immediate lord, who in turn 
owed duties to his own lord, still above him. Thus in the 
Cistercian Order the visitatorial authority over each founda- 
tion was vested in the immediate mother abbey, rather than 
in the primal abbey of Citeaux, from which the intervening 
mother abbey had gone forth. 

This plan was formulated by Stephen Harding's Charta 
Charitatis, 1 the charter of the Cistercian Order and a 
monument of constructive genius. Apparently mindful of 
the various privileges recognized by the feudal system, it 
begins by renouncing on the part of the superior monastery 
all claim to temporal emolument from the daughter founda- 
tions : " Nullam terrenae commoditatis seu rerum tempo- 
ralium exactionem imponimus.'' " But for love's sake 
(gratia charitatis) we desire to retain the care of their souls ; 
so that should they swerve from the holy way and the 
observance of the Holy Rule, they may through our solici- 
tude return to rectitude of life." 

Then follows the command that all Cistercian founda- 
tions obey implicitly the regula of Benedict, as understood 
and practised at Citeaux, and that all follow the customs of 
Citeaux, and the same forms of chant and prayer and service 
(for we receive their monks in our cloister, and they ours), 
" so that without discordant actions we may live by one love, 
one rule, and like practices (una charitate, una regula, 
similibusque vivamus moribus)." A short sentence follows, 
forbidding all monasteries and individual monks to accept 

1 Migne, Pat. Lat. 166, col. 1377-1384. 


from any source any privilege inconsistent with the customs 
of the Order. 

So the Charta enjoined a uniformity of discipline. Wise 
and temperate provision was made for the enforcement of 
the same when necessary by the immediate parent monastery 
of the delinquent foundation. " Whenever the Abbot of 
Citeaux comes to a monastery to visit it, its abbot shall 
make way for him, and he shall there hold the office of 
abbot. Yet let him not presume to order or conduct 
affairs against the wishes of its abbot and the brethren. 
But if he sees that the precepts of the Regula or of our 
Order are transgressed, let him seek to correct the brethren 
with the advice and in the presence of the abbot. If 
the abbot be absent, he may still proceed." Once a 
year the Abbot of Citeaux, in person or through one 
of his co-abbots, must visit all the monasteries (coenobia) 
which he has founded, and if more often, the brethren should 
the more rejoice. Likewise must the four primary abbots 
of La Ferte, Pontigny, Clairvaux, and Morimond, together 
visit Citeaux once a year, at such time as they may choose, 
except that set for the annual meeting of the general Chapter. 
At Citeaux also, let any visiting abbot be treated as if he 
were abbot there. 

" Whenever any of our churches (monasteries) by God's grace 
so increases that it is able to found another brotherhood, let the 
same relationship (definitio) obtain between them which obtains 
between us and our cofratres, except that they may not hold an 
annual Chapter ; but rather let all abbots come without fail every 
year to the annual Chapter at Citeaux. 

" At which Chapter let them take measures for the safety of 
their souls ; if in the observance of the holy Regula or the Order, 
anything should be amended or supplemented, let them ordain it ; 
let them re-establish the bond of peace and love among them- 

The annual Chapter is also given authority to correct 
any abbot and settle controversies between abbots ; but 
when an abbot appears unworthy of his charge, and the 
Chapter has not acted, it is the duty of the abbot of his 
mother church to admonish him, and, upon his obduracy, 
summon other abbots and move for his deposition. Thus 


the Charta Charitatis apportioned authority among the abbots 
of the Order, providing, as it were, a mutual power of enforce- 
ment in which every abbot had part. One notices also that 
the Charta is neither monarchical nor democratic, but aristo- 
cratic ; for the abbots (not the Abbot of Citeaux alone) 
manage and control the Order, and without any representa- 
tion of the monks at the annual Chapter. 1 The Charta 
Charitatis seems a spiritual mirror of the feudal system. 

Mediaeval monasticism, whether cloistered or sent forth 
into the world, was predominantly coenobitic or communal. 
Yet through the Middle Ages the anchorite or hermit way 
of life was not unrepresented. Both monk and hermit 
existed from the beginning of Christian monasticism ; they 
recognized the same purpose, but employed different means 
to achieve it. For their common aim was to merit the 
kingdom of heaven through the suppression of sense-desires 
and devotion to spiritual righteousness. But the communal 
system recognized the social nature of man, his essential 
weakness in isolation, and his inability to satisfy his bodily 
wants by himself. Thus admitting the human need of 
fellowship and correction, it deemed that man's spiritual 
progress could be best advanced in a way of life which took 
account of these facts. On the other hand, anchoritism 
looked rather to man's self-sufficiency alone with God — 
and the devil. It held that man could best conquer his 
carnal nature in solitude, and in solitude best meditate upon 
his soul and God. The society of one's fellows, even though 
they be like-minded, is a distraction and a hindrance. 
Obviously, the devoted temper has its variants ; and some 
souls will draw from solitude that strength which others gain 
from support and sympathy. 

Both the coenobitic and the hermit life were, from the 
time of their inception, phases of the vita contemplativa. 
Yet more active duties had constantly been recognized, until 
at last monasticism, in an ardour of love for fellow-men, 
broke from the cloister and went abroad in the steps of 
Francis and Dominic. Even this active and uncloistered 
monasticism drew its strength from its hidden meditation, 

1 In fact, paragraph 15 provides that at the Chapter accusations against an 
abbot shall be brought only by an abbot. 


and, strengthened from within itself, entered upon the vita 
activa, and practised among men the virtues which it had 
acquired through contemplation and the quiet discipline of 
the cloister. So if we people of the world would have 
understanding of the matter, we must never forget that at its 
source and in its essence the monastic life is a vita con- 
templativa, whether the monastic man, as a member of a 
fervent community, be sustained through the support of his 
brethren and the counsel or command of his superior, or 
whether, as an anchorite, he seclude himself in solitude. 
And the essence of this vita contemplativa is not to do or 
act, but to contemplate, meditate upon God and the human 
soul. By one line of ancestry it is a descendant of Aristotle's 
/3to9 6ecoprjTiKo<;. But its mightier parent was the Saviour's 
manifestation of God's love of man and man's love of God. 
From this source came the emotional elements (and they 
were the predominant and overwhelming) of the Christian 
vita contemplativa, its terror and despair, its tears and hope, 
and its yearning love. Through these any Hellenic calm 
was transformed to storm-tossed Christian ecstasy. 

Monastic quietism might at any time be drafted into 
Christian militancy. In the crises of the Church, or when 
there was call to go forth and convert the heathen or the 
carnal, both monk and hermit became zealots in the world. 
Yet important and frequent as these active functions were, 
they were not commanded by the Benedictine regula, either 
in its original form or in its many modifications, Cluniac, 
Cistercian, or Carthusian ; hence they were not treated as 
part of the monastic life. There was to come a change. The 
vita contemplativa was to take to itself the vita activa as a 
regular and not an occasional function of perfect Christian 
piety. An evangelization of monasticism, according to the 
more active spirit of the Gospel, was at hand. The mon- 
astic ideal was to become humane and actively loving. In 
principle and theory, as well as practice, Christian piety was 
no longer to find its entire end and aim in contemplation, in 
asceticism, in purity : it was regularly henceforth to occupy 
itself with a loving beneficence among men. 

Some of the ardent beginnings of this movement did not 
receive the sanction of the Church. The Poor of Lyons, the 


Humbled Folk (Humiliati) of Lombardy, the Beghards of 
Liege, were pronounced to be heretics. Predominantly lay 
and ecclesiastically somewhat bizarre, they were scarcely 
monks. Yet these irregular evangelists of the latter part of 
the twelfth century were forerunners of that chief evangelizer 
of Monasticism, Francis of Assisi. 1 

The life of Francis, as all men know, fulfilled the current 
demands of monasticism. He lived and taught obedience, 
chastity, humility, and a more absolute poverty than had 
been before conceived. With respect to the first three 
virtues, it was only through his loving way of living them 
that Francis set anything new before his brethren. As for 
the last, it may be said that monks had always been forbidden 
to own property ; only the monastery or the Order might. 
Francis's absolute acceptance of poverty comes to us as 
inspired by the command of Christ to the rich young 
man : Go and sell all, and give to the poor, and then come 
follow me. But had no Christian soul read this before and 
accepted it absolutely ? The Athanasian Life of St. Anthony, 

1 It is interesting to observe how much of Stephen of Bourbon's description 
of the Poor of Lyons applies to Franciscan beginnings, and how much more of it 
would have applied had not St. Francis possessed the gift of obedience among 
his other virtues. Stephen was a Dominican of the first half of the thirteenth 
century, and himself an inquisitor. Thus he describes these misled people : 
" The Waldenses are called after the author of this heresy, whose name was 
Waldensis. They are also called the Poor of Lyons, because there they first 
professed poverty. Likewise they call themselves the Poor in Spirit, because the 
Lord says : ' Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . .' Waldensis, who lived in Lyons, 
was a man of wealth, but of little education. Hearing the Gospels, and curious 
to understand their meaning, he bargained with two priests that they should 
make a translation in the vulgar tongue. This they did, with other books of the 
Bible and many precepts from the writings of the saints. When this townsman 
had read the Gospel till he knew it by heart, he set out to follow apostolic per- 
fection, just as the Apostles themselves. So, selling all his goods, in contempt of 
the world, he tossed his money like dirt to the poor. Then he presumed to usurp 
the office of the Apostles, and preached the Gospels in the open streets. He led 
many men and women to do the same, exercising them in the Gospels. He also 
sent them to preach in the neighbouring villages. These ignorant men and women 
running through villages, entering houses, and preaching in the open places as well 
as the churches, drew others to the same ways." 

Up to this point we are close to the Franciscans. But now the Archbishop 
of Lyons forbids these ignorant irregular evangelists to preach. Their leader 
answers for them, that they must obey God rather than man, and Scripture says 
to preach the Gospel to every creature. Thus they fell into disobedience, con- 
tumacy, and incurred excommunication, says Stephen (Anecdotes, etc., cC&tienne 
de Bourbon, edited by Lecoy de la Marche (Soc. de l'Histoire de France, Paris, 
1877), cap. 342). 


at the very beginning of Christian monasticism, has the 
same account ; he too gave up all he had on reading this 
passage. But then he fled to the desert, while Francis, 
when he had given up all, opened his arms to mankind. 
In accordance with his brotherly and social evangelization 
of monasticism, Francis modified certain of its practices. 
He removed restrictions upon intercourse among the 
brethren, and took away the barriers, save those of holiness, 
between the brethren and the world. Then he lifted the 
veil of silence from the brethren's lips. They should thence- 
forth speak freely, in love of God and man. So monasticism 
stepped forth, at last uncloistered, upon its course of love and 
teaching in the world. 

In spite of the temperamental differences between Francis 
and Dominic, and in spite of the different tasks which they 
set before their Orders, the analogy between Franciscans and 
Dominicans was fundamental ; for the latter, as well as the 
former, regularly undertook to evoke the vita activa from the 
vita contemplativa. The Dominicans were to preach and 
teach true Christian doctrine, and as veritable Domini canes 
destroy the wolves of heresy menacing the Christian fold. 

Dominic received from Pope Honorius III., in 1217, the 
confirmation of his Order, as an Order of Canons according 
to the Regula supposed to have been taught by Augustine. 
The Preaching Friars were never cloistered by their regula, 
any more than were the Minorites. Two or three years 
later, Dominic added, or emphasized anew, the principle of 
voluntary poverty, not only in the individuals but in the 
Order as a corporate whole. Whencesoever he derived this 
idea — whether from the Franciscans, or because it was rife 
among men — at all events it was not his originally ; for 
Dominic had accepted at an earlier period the one-sixth 
of the revenues of the Bishop of Toulouse. This he now 
renounced, and instead accepted voluntary poverty. 

It was not given to Dominic to love as Francis loved. 
Nor was he an incarnate poem. But it was in the spirit of 
Christian devotion that he undertook and laid upon his 
Order the performance of active duties in the world, especi- 
ally of preaching true doctrines for the salvation of souls. 
Dominic took no personal part in the Albigensian blood- 


shedding ; and he was not the founder of the Inquisition, 
although his Order was so soon to be identified with it. He 
was a theologian, a teacher, and an ardent preacher ; a 
devoted man, given to tears. Almost the only words we 
have from him are those of his Testament : " Caritatem 
habete, humilitatem servate, paupertatem voluntariam 
possedete." x 

1 The role of Franciscans and Dominicans in the spread of philosophic 
knowledge in the thirteenth century will be considered post, Chapter XXXVIII. 
Chapter XIX., post, is devoted to the personal qualities of Francis. 



Peter Damiani ; Romuald ; Dominicus Loricatus ; 
Bruno and Guigo, Carthusians 

To contemplate goodness in God, and strain toward it in 
yearning love, is the method of the Christian vita contem- 
plativa. In this way the recluse cultivates humility, patience, 
purity, and love, and perfects his soul for heaven. And 
herein, in that it is more undistracted and more undisturbed, 
lies the superiority of the solitary life over the coenobitic. 

Yet this conceived superiority is but the reason and the 
conscious motive for the solitary life. The call to it is felt 
as well as intellectually accepted. It is temperament that 
makes the recluse ; his reasons are but his justification. In 
solitude he lives the reaches of his life ; from solitude he 
draws his utmost bliss. To leave it involves the torture of 
separation, and then all the petty pains of unhappy labour 
and distasteful intercourse with men. " Whoever would 
reach the summit of perfection should keep within the 
cloister of his seclusion, cherish spiritual leisure, and shudder 
at traversing the world, as if he were about to plunge into a 
sea of blood. For the world is so filthy with vices, that any 
holy mind is befouled even by thinking about it." x 

Here speaks the hermit temper, by the mouth of a 
supreme exponent. If Hildebrand, who compelled all men 
to his purposes, kept Peter Damiani in the world, that 
ascetic soul did not cease to yearn for the hermit life. His 
skilful pen served it untiringly. Its temper, its merits, 
and its grounds, appear with unique clarity in the writings 

1 Peter Damiani, De contemptu saeculi, cap. 32 (Migne 145, col. 287). 


chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 385 

of him who, sore against his will, was the Cardinal-Bishop 
of Ostia. 1 

" The solitary life is the school of celestial doctrine and 
the divine arts (artes divinae)," says Damiani, meaning 
every word. " For there God is the whole that is learned. 
He is also the way by which one advances, through which 
one attains knowledge of the highest truth." 2 To obtain 
its benefits, it must be led assiduously and without break or 
wandering abroad among men : " Habit makes his cell sweet 
to the monk, but roving makes it seem horrible. . . . The 
unbroken hermit life is a cooling refreshment (refrigerium) ; 
but, if interrupted, it seems a torment. Through continued 
seclusion the soul is illuminated, vices are uncovered, and 
whatever of himself had been hidden from the man, is 
disclosed." 3 

Peter argues that the hermit life is free from tempta- 
tions (!) and offers every aid to victory. 

" The wise man, bent on safeguarding his salvation, watches 
always to destroy his vices ; he girds his loins — and his belly — 
with the girdle of perfect mortification. Truly that takes place 
when the itching palate is suppressed, when the pert tongue is 
held in silence, the ear is shut off from evil-speaking and the eye 
from unpermitted sights ; when the hand is held from cruel 
striking, and the foot from vainly roving ; when the heart is 
withstood, that it may not envy another's felicity, nor through 
avarice covet what is not its own, nor through anger sever itself 
from fraternal love, nor vaunt itself arrogantly above its fellows, 
nor yield to the ticklings of lust, nor immoderately sink itself 
in grief or abandon itself wantonly to joy. Since, then, the human 
mind has not the power to remain entirely empty, and unoccupied 
with the love of something, it is girt around with a wall of the 

" In this way, then, our mind begins to be at rest in its Author 
and to taste the sweetness of that intimacy. At once it rejects 
whatever it deems contrary to the divine law, shrinks from what 
does not agree with the rule of supernal righteousness. Hence 
true mortification is born ; hence it comes that man bearing the 
Cross of his Redeemer seems dead to the world. No longer he 
delights in silly fables, nor is content to waste his time with idle 
talk. But he is free for psalms and hymns and spiritual songs ; 

1 On Damiani, see ante, Chapter XI. iv. 

2 Peter Damiani, Opusc. xi., Dominus vobiscum, cap. 19 (Migne 145, col. 246). 

3 Peter Damiani, De contemptu saeculi, cap. 25 (Migne 145, col. 278). 

VOL. I 2 C 


he seeks seclusion, he longs for a hiding-place ; he regards the 
cloister as a shop for talkers, a public forum, and rejoices in nooks 
and pries out corners ; and that he may the more freely attend 
to the contemplation of his Creator, so far as he may he declines 
colloquy with men." * 

" In fine," says Damiani, in another chapter, " our entire 
conversion, and renunciation of the world, aims at nothing else 
than rest. This rest is won through the man's prior discipline in 
the toils of strife, in order that when the tumult of disturbance 
ceases, his mind, through the grace of contemplation, may be 
translated to explore the face of truth. But since one attains to 
this rest only through labour and conflict, how can one reach it 
who has not gone down into the strife ? By what right can one 
enter the halls of the King who has not traversed the arena before 
the doors ? " 2 

" It further behoves each brother who with his whole heart 
has abandoned the world, to unlearn and forget forever whatever 
is injurious. He should not be disputatious as to cookery, nor 
clever in the petty matters of the town ; nor an adept in rhetoric's 
jinglings, or in jokes or word play. He should love fasts and 
cherish penury ; he should flee the sight of man, restrain himself 
under the censorship of silence, withdraw from affairs, keep his 
mouth from idle talk, and seek the hiding-place of his soul, and 
in such hiding be on fire to see the face of his Creator. Let him 
pant for tears, and implore God for them by daily prayer." 3 

1 Peter Damiani, De perfectione monachi, caps. 2, 3 (Migne 145, col. 294). 

2 De perfectione monachi, cap. 8 (Migne 145, col. 303). 

3 De perf. mon. cap. 12 (Migne 145, col. 307). For such as have feeling for 
these matters, I give these further extracts from the same De perf. mon. cap. 12. 
" For the dew of tears cleanses the soul from every stain and makes fruitful the 
meadows of our hearts so that they bring forth the sprouts of virtue. For often 
as under an icy frost the wretched soul sheds its foliage, and, grace departing, it 
is left to itself barren and stripped of its shortlived blossoms. But anon tears 
given by the Tester of hearts burst forth, and this same soul is loosed from the 
cold of its slothful torpor, and is clothed again with the renewed blossom of its 
virtues, as a tree in spring kindled by the south wind. 

" Tears, moreover, which are from God, with confidence approach the tribunal 
of divine hearing, and quickly obtaining what they ask, assure us of the remission 
of our sins. Tears are intermediaries in concluding peace between God and men ; 
they are the truthful and the very wisest (dodissimae) teachers in the dubiousness 
of human ignorance. For when we are in doubt whether something may be 
pleasing to God, we can reach no better certitude than through prayer, weeping 
truthfully. We need never again hesitate as to what our mind has decided on 
under such conditions. 

" Tears," continues Damiani, " washed the noisomeness of her guilt from the 
Magdalen, saved the Apostle who denied his Lord, restored King David after 
deadly sin, added three years to Hezekiah's life, preserved inviolate the chastity 
of Judith, and won for her the head of Holophernes. Why mention the centurion 
Cornelius, why mention Susanna ? indeed were I to tell all the deeds of tears, 

chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 387 

With this last sentence Damiani makes his transition to 
the emotional side of the Christian vita contempiativa. He 
will now pour himself out in a rhapsody of praise of tears, 
which purify and refresh the soul, and open it to the love 
of God. 

" From the fire of divine love rises the grace of contrition 
{gratia compunctionis) , . . . and again from the contrition of 
tears (ex compunctione lacrymarum) the ardour of celestial yearn- 
ing is increased. The one hangs from the other, and each pro- 
motes the other ; while the contrition of tears flows from the 
love of God, through tears again our soul burns more fervidly 
toward the love of God. In this reciprocal and alternating action, 
the soul is purged of the filth of its offence." 

Elsewhere Damiani suggests how the hermit may acquire 
the " grace of tears " : 

" Seclude thyself from the turmoil of secular affairs and often 
even from talk with thy brethren. Cut off the cares and anxieties 
of mundane action ; clear them away as a heap of rubbish which 
stops the fountain's flow. As water in a cavern of the earth wells 
up from the abyss, but hindered by obstacles cannot flow forth, 
so sadness (tristitia) wells in a human heart from contemplation 
of the profundity of God's Judgment, and yet will not flow forth 
in tears if checked by the clog of earthly acts. Sadness is the 
material of tears. But in order that the veins of this fount may 
flow more abundantly, do thou clear away all obstacles of secular 
business : and not to omit what I have frequently experienced, 
even spiritual zeal, the punishment of delinquents and the labour 
of preaching, holy as they are and commanded by divine authority, 
nevertheless are certainly obstacles to tears. 

" So if you would attain the grace of tears, you must even curb 
the exercise of spiritual duties, eliminate malice, anger, and hatred, 

the day would close before my task were ended. For it is they that purify the 
sinner's soul, confirm his inconstant heart, prepare joy out of grief, and, breaking 
forth from our eyes of flesh, raise us to the hope of supernal beatitude. For their 
petition may not be set aside, so mighty are their voices in the Creator's ears. . . . 
Before the pious Judge they hesitate at nothing, but vindicate their claim to mercy 
as a right, and exult confident of having obtained what they implore. 

"O ye tears, joys of the spirit, sweeter than honey, sweeter than nectar ! 
which with a sweet and pleasant taste refresh minds lifted up to God, and water 
consumed and arid hearts with a flood of penetrating grace from heaven. Weeping 
eyes terrify the devil ; he fears the onslaught of tears bursting forth, as one would 
flee a tempest of hail driven by the fury of all the winds. As the torrent's rush 
cleanses the river-bed, the flowing tears purge the weeper's mind from the devil's 
tares and every pest of sin." 


and the other pests from your heart. And do not let your own 
accusing conscience dry up the dew of tears with the aridity of 
fear. Indeed the confidence of holiness (sanctitatis fiducia) and a 
conscience bearing witness to its own innocence, waters the pure 
soul with the celestial rivulets of grace, softens the hardness of the 
impure heart, and opens the floodgates of weeping." x 

" Many are the ways," says Damiani in words sounding like a 
final reflection upon the solitary life — " many are the ways by 
which one comes to God ; diverse are the orders in the society of 
the faithful ; but among them all there is no way so straight, so 
sure, so unimpeded, so free from obstacles which trip one's feet, as 
this holy life. It eliminates occasions for sin ; it cultivates the 
greatest number of virtues by which God may be pleased ; and 
thus, as it removes the opportunities of delinquency, it adds the 
strength of necessity's insistence upon good works." 2 

Peter Damiani, exiled from solitude, found no task more 
grateful than that of writing the Life of his older contem- 
porary, St. Romualdus, the founder of Camaldoli and other 
hermit communities in Italy. That man had completely 
lived the life from which the Church's exigencies dragged 
his biographer. Peter put himself, as well as his best 
literary powers, into this Vita Romualdi, and made it one of 
the most vivid of mediaeval Vitae sanctorum. If Romuald 
was a hermit in the flesh, Damiani had the imagination to 
make the hermit spirit speak. 3 

" Against thee, unclean world, we cry, that thou hast an in- 
tolerable crowd of the foolish wise, eloquent as regards thee, mute 
as to God. Wise are they to do evil ; they know not how to do 
good. For behold almost three lustra 4 have passed since the 
blessed Romualdus, laying aside the burden of flesh, migrated 
to the heavenly realm, and no one has arisen from these wise 
people to place upon the page of history even a few of the lessons 
of that wonderful life." 

The tone of this prologue suggests the kind of lessons 
found by the biographer in the Life of Romuald. He was 

1 De inst. ord. eremitarum, cap. 26 (Migne 145, col. 358). On the distraction 
from the vita contemplativa involved in an abbot's duties see Damiani's verses, 
De abbatum miseria, ante, Chapter XI. iv. 

a De inst. ord. er. cap. 1 (Migne 145, col. 337). 

3 The Vita Romualdi is printed in Migne 144, col. 953-1008. 

4 Romuald died in 1027 ; lustrum here may mean four years, which would 
bring the time of writing to 1039. 

chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 389 

born of an illustrious Ravenna family about the year 950. 
In youth his devout mind became conscious of the sinfulness 
of the flesh. Whenever he went hunting, as was his wont, 
and would come to a retired nook in the woods, the hermit 
yearning came over him — and in love, says Damiani, he was 
prescient of what he was later to fulfil in deed. 

His father chanced to kill a neighbour in knightly brawl ; 
and for this homicide the son entered the monastery of St. 
Apollinaris in Classe, to do forty days' penance for his 
parent. This introduction to the cloister had its natural 
effect on such a temper. Goaded by a vision of the saint, 
Romuald became a monk. He soon showed himself no easy 
man. His harsh censure of the brethren's laxities caused a 
plot to murder him, the first of many attempts upon his life. 

Three years he dwelt there. Then the yearning for 
perfection drove him forth, and, for a master, he sought out 
a hermit named Marinus, who lived in the Venetian terri- 
tory, a man well meaning, but untaught as to the method of 
the hermit life. He and his disciple would issue from their 
cell and wander, singing together twenty psalms under one 
tree, and then thirty or forty under another. The disciple 
was unlettered, and the master rude. Romuald experienced 
intolerable tedium from straining his fixed eyes upon a 
psalter, which he could not read. He may have betrayed 
his ennui. At all events Marinus, grasping his rod in his 
right hand, and sitting on his disciple's left, continually beat 
him, and always on the left side of his head. At length 
Romuald said humbly : " Master, if you please, would you 
henceforth beat me on the right side, as I have lost the 
hearing of my left ear." 

In the neighbourhood there dwelt a duke whose rapacity 
had brought him into peril. It happened that the abbot of a 
monastery situated not far from Chalons-sur-Marne in France 
came pilgrimaging that way, and the duke took counsel of 
him. The two hermits were also called ; and the advice to 
the duke was to flee the world. So the whole party set 
forth, crossed the Alps, and travelled to the abbot's 
monastery. There the duke became a monk, while Romuald 
and Marinus dwelt as solitaries a little way off. 

From this time Romuald increased in virtue, far out- 


stripping all the brethren. He supplied his wants by tilling 
the soil, and fasted exceedingly. He sustained continual 
conflicts with the devil, who was always bringing into his 
mind the loves and hates of his former life in the world. 

" The devil would come striking on his cell, just as Romuald 
was falling asleep, and then no sleep for him. Every night for 
nearly five years the devil lay on his feet and legs, and weighted 
them with the likeness of a phantom weight, so that Romuald 
could scarcely turn on his couch. How often did the devil let 
loose the raging beasts of the vices ! and how often did Romuald 
put them to flight by his dire threats ! Hence if any of the 
brethren came in the silence, knocking at his door, the soldier 
of Christ, always ready for battle, taking him for the devil, would 
threaten and cry out : ' What now, wretch ! what is there for 
thee in the hermitage, outcast of heaven ! Back, unclean dog ! 
Vanish, old snake ! ' He declared that with such words as these 
he gave battle to malignant spirits ; and with the arms of faith 
would go out and meet the challenge of the foe." 

Marvellously Romuald increased his fasts and austerities 
after the manner of the old anchorites of Egypt. 1 Miraculous 
powers became his. But news came of his father which 
drew him back to Italy. That noble but sinful parent had 
entered a monastery where, under the persuasion of the devil, 
he was soon sorry for his conversion, and sought to return 
to the world. Romuald decided to go to his perishing 
father's aid. But the people of the region hearing of it, 
were distressed to lose a man of such spiritual might. They 
took counsel how to prevent his departure, and with impious 

1 Vita Romualdi, caps. 8, 9. Damiani does not say this here, but quite 
definitely suggests it in cap. 64. The lives of these eastern hermits were known 
to Romuald ; hermits in Italy had imitated them ; and the connection with the 
knowledge of the Orient was not severed. See Sackur, Die Cluniacenser, etc., 
i. 324 sqq. Thus for their models these Italian hermits go behind the Regula 
Benedicti to the anchorite examples of Cassian and the East. Cf. Taylor, Classical 
Heritage, p. 160. A good example was St. Nilus, a Calabrian, perhaps of Greek 
stock. As Abbot of Crypta-Ferrata in Agro-Tusculano, he did not cease from 
his austerities, and still dwelt in a cave. He died in 1005 at the alleged age of 
ninety-five. His days are thus described : from dawn to the third hour he copied 
rapidly, filling a rerpadelov (quaternion) each day. From the third to the sixth 
hour he stood before the Cross of the Lord, reciting psalms and making genuflec- 
tions ; from the sixth to the ninth, he sat and read — no profane book we may be 
sure. When the ninth hour was come, he addressed his evening hymn to God and 
went out to walk and study Him in His works. See his Vita, from the Greek, in 
Acta sanctorum, Sept. t. vii. pp. 279-343, especially page 293. 

chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 391 

piety (impia pietate) decided to send men to kill him, think- 
ing that since they could not retain him alive, they would 
have his corpse as a protection for the land {pro patrocinio 
terrae). Knowing of this, Romuald shaved his head, and 
as the murderers approached his cell in the dusk of morning, 
he began to eat ravenously. Thinking him demented, they 
did him no injury. He then set forth, staff in hand, and 
walked from the centre of Gaul, even to Ravenna. There 
finding his father still seeking to return to the world, he tied 
the old sinner's feet to a beam, fettered him with chains, 
flogged him, and at length by pious severity so subjugated 
his flesh that with God's aid he brought his mind back to a 
state of salvation. 1 

Thus far Romuald's life affords striking illustration of 
the fact that prodigious austerities and the consequent repute 
for miracles were the chief elements in mediaeval sainthood ; 
also of the fact that the saint's dead body might be as good 
as he. But while he lived, Romuald was much more than 
a miracle-working relic. He was a strong, domineering 
personality. It was soon after he brought his father back 
to the way of holiness that the old man saw a vision, and 
happily yielded up the ghost. The son continued to 
advance in his chosen way of life and in the elements of 
character which it fostered. He became a prodigious 
solitary ; one to whom men and their ways were intolerable, 
and who himself was sometimes found intolerable by men. 
Even his appearance might be exceptional : 

" The venerable man dwelt for a while in a swamp (near 
Ferrara). At length the poisonous air and the stench of the 
marsh drove him out ; and he emerged hairless, with his flesh 
puffed and swollen (tumef actus et depilatus), not looking as if 
belonging to the genus homo ; for he was as green as a newt." 2 

Such a story displays the very extravagance of fleshly 
mortification. It has also its local colour. But one should 
seek its explanation in the grounds of the hermit life as set 
forth by Peter Damiani. Then the incidents of Romuald's 
life will appear to spring from these hermit motives and 
from the hermit temperament, which became of terrible 

1 Vita Romual&i, cap. 13. 2 Ibid. cap. 20. 


intensity with him. Also the egotism, so frequently an 
element of that temperament, rose with him to spiritual 
megalomania : 

" One day (apparently in the latter part of his life) some 
disciples asked him, ' Master, of what age does the soul appear, 
and in what form is it presented for judgment ? ' He replied, ' I 
know a man in Christ, whose soul is brought before God shining 
like snow, and indeed in human form, with the stature of the 
perfect time of life.' Asked again who that man might be, he 
would not speak for indignation. And then the disciples talked 
it over, and recognized that he was certainly the man." x 

In another part of the Vita, Damiani, having told of 
his hero's sojourn with a company of hermits who preferred 
their will to his, thus continues : " Romuald, therefore, 
impatient of sterility, began to search with anxious eager- 
ness where he might find a soil fit to bear a fruitage of 
souls." It was his passion to change men to anchorites : 
he yearned to convert the whole world to the solitary life. 
Many were the hermit communities which he established. 
But he could not endure his hermit sons for long, nor they 
him. His intolerant soul revolted from the give-and-take 
of intercourse. Such intolerance and his passion to make 
more converts drove him from place to place. He seemed 
inspired with a superhuman power of drawing men from 
the world. Now 

" therefore he sent messengers to the Counts of Camerino. When 
these heard the name of Romuald they were beside themselves 
with joy, and placed their possessions, mountains, woods, and 
fields at his disposal, to select from. He chose a spot suited to 
the hermit way of living, intrenched amid forests and mountains, 
and affording an ample space of level fruitful ground, watered with 
crystal streams. The place was called of old the Valley of the 
Camp (Vallis de Castro), and a little church was there with a 
convent of women who had turned from the world. Here having 
built their cells, the venerable man and his disciples took up 
their abode. 

" And what fruitage of souls the Lord there won through him, 
pen cannot describe nor tongue relate. From all directions men 
began to pour in for penance, and in pity to give away their goods 
to the poor, while others utterly forsook the world and with fervent 

1 Vita Romualdi, cap. 51. 

chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 393 

spirit hastened to the holy way of life. For this most blessed man 
was as one of the Seraphim, himself burning with the flame of 
divine love, and kindling others, wherever he went, with the fires 
of his holy preaching. Often, while speaking, a vast contrition 
brought him to such floods of tears that, breaking off his sermon, 
he would flee anywhere for refuge, like one demented. And also 
when travelling on horseback with the brethren, he followed far 
behind them, always singing psalms, as if he were in his cell, and 
never ceasing to shed tears." x 

In that age, the hopes and fears ,and wonderment of 
men looked to the recluse as the perfected saint. No wonder 
that those Italian lands, so blithely sinful and so grievously 
penitent, were moved by this volcanic tempest of a man, 
fierce, merciless to the flesh, convulsed with scorching tears, 
famed for austerities and miracles. He lashed men from 
their sins ; men feared before one whose presence was a 
threat of hell. Said the Marquis of Tuscany : " Not the 
emperor nor any mortal man, can put such fear in me as 
Romuald's look. Before his face I know not what to say, 
nor how to defend myself or find excuses." And the 
biographer adds that " of a truth the holy man had this 
grace from the divine favour, that sinners, and especially the 
great of this world, quaked in their bowels before him as if 
before the majesty of God." 2 

But some men hated, and especially those of his own 
persuasion who could not endure his harshness. From 
such came attempts at murder ; from such also came 
milder outbreaks of detestation and revolt. No other 
founder of ascetic communities seems to have been so 
rebelled against. He went from the Valley of the Camp 
to Classe, where a simoniac abbot attempted to strangle 
him ; then he returned, but not for long, for the abbot 
established in his place rejected his reproofs, and maligned 
him with the lords of the land. " And in that way," says 
Damiani, " the tall cedar of Paradise was cast forth from the 
forest of earthly men." 3 

His next sojourn was Vallombrosa, where after his 
decease one of his disciples was to found a famous cloister. 
From that nest in the Tuscan Apennines, he went to dwell 

1 Vita Romualdi, cap. 35. 2 Ibid. cap. 40. 

3 Ibid. cap. 45. 


permanently on the Umbrian mount of Sytrio. At this 
point his biographer proceeds : 

" Whoever hears that the holy man so often changed his 
habitation, must not ascribe this to the vice of levity. For the 
cause of these changes was that wherever he stayed, an almost 
countless crowd assembled, and when he saw one place filled with 
converts he very properly would appoint a prior and at once 
hasten to fill another. 

" In Sytrio what insults and what indignities he endured from 
his disciples ! We will set down one instance, and omit the rest 
for brevity. There was a disciple named Romanus, noble by 
birth, but ignoble by deed. Him the holy man for his carnal 
impurity not only chided by word but corrected with heavy beat- 
ings. That diabolic man dared to retort with the fabrication of 
the same charge, and to bark with sacrilegious mouth against this 
temple of the Holy Spirit, saying forsooth that the holy man was 
spotted with this same infection. The rage of the disciples broke 
out immediately against Romuald. All were his enemies : some 
declared that the wicked old man ought to be hanged from a 
gallows, others that he should be burned in his cell. 

" One cannot understand how spiritual men could have be- 
lieved such wickedness of a decrepit old man, whose frigid blood 
and aridity of attenuated frame would have forbade him, had he 
had the will. But doubtless it is to be deemed that this scourge 
of adversity came upon the holy man by the will of Heaven, to 
augment his merit. For he said himself that he had foreknown 
it with certainty in the solitude which he had left just before, 
and had come with alacrity to undergo this shame. But that 
false monkish reprobate who brought the charge against the holy 
man, afterwards became Bishop of Noceria through simony, 
and in the first year of his occupancy, saw, as he deserved, his 
house with his books and bells and the rest of his sacred para- 
phernalia burned ; and in the second year, the divine sentence 
struck him and he wretchedly lost both his dignity and his life. 

" In the meanwhile the disciples put a penance on the holy 
man as if he had been guilty, and deprived him of the right to 
celebrate the holy mysteries. He willingly accepted this false 
judgment, and took his penance like a culprit, not presuming to 
approach the altar for well-nigh six months. At length, as he 
afterwards told his disciples, he was divinely commanded to 
celebrate mass. On the next day, when proceeding with the 
sacrifice, he became rapt in ecstasy, and continued speechless for 
so long a time that all present marvelled. When afterwards asked 
the reason of his delay, he replied : ' Carried into heaven, I was 
borne before God ; and the divine voice commanded me, that with 

chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 395 

such intelligence as God had set in me, I should write and com- 
mend for use a Commentary on the Psalms. Overcome with 
terror, I could only respond : so let it be, so let it be.' For this 
reason the holy man made a Commentary on the whole Psalter ; 
and although its grammar was bad, its sense was sound and 
clear." 1 

Various attempts were made in the Middle Ages to 
render the hermit life practicable, through permitting a 
limited intercourse among a cluster of like-minded ascetics, 
as well as to regulate it under the direction of a superior. 
In Italy, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the picturesque 
energy of the individual hermit is prodigious, while in the 
north, as in the establishment of the Carthusian Order, the 
organization is better, the result more permanent, but the 
imaginative and consistent extravagance of personality is 
not there. In the hermit communities founded by Romuald 
there was a prior or abbot, invested with some authority. 
Yet the organization was less complete than in coenobitic 
monasteries ; for Romuald's hermit methods sought to 
minimize the intercourse among the brethren, to an extent 
which was scarcely compatible with effective organization. 
An idea of these communities may be had from Damiani's 
description of one of them : 

" Such was the mode of life in Sytrio, that not only in name but 
in fact it was as another Nytria. 2 The brethren went barefoot ; 
unkempt and haggard ; they were content with the barest neces- 
saries. Some were shut in with doomed doors (damnatis januis), 
seemingly as dead to the world as if in a tomb. Wine was un- 
known, even in extreme illness. Even the attendants of the 
monks (famuli monachorum) and those who kept the cattle, 
fasted and preserved silence. They made regulations among 
themselves, and laid penances for speaking." 3 

For seven years Romuald lived at Sytrio as an inclusus, 
shut up in his cell, and preserving unbroken silence. Yet 
though his tongue was dumb his life was eloquent. He 
lived on, setting a shining example of squalor and austerity, 
eating only vile food, and handing back untouched any 
savoury morsel. His conflicts with the devil continued ; nor 

1 Vita, caps. 49, 50. 

2 The Syrian region famous for its early anchorites. 

3 Vita Romualdi, cap. 64. 


was he ever vanquished. Advancing years intensified his 
aversion to human society and his passion for solitude. In 
proportion as he made his ways displeasing to men, his 
self-approval was enhanced. 1 A solitary death kept tally 
with the temper of a recluse life. 

" When he saw his end draw near he returned to the Valley of 
the Camp, and had a cell with an oratory prepared, in which to 
immure himself and keep silence until death. Twenty years 
before, he had foretold to his disciples that there he should attain 
his peace ; and had declared his wish to breathe forth his spirit 
with no one standing by or bestowing the last rites. When this 
cell of immurement (reclusorium) was ready, his mind was set 
upon immediate inclusion. But his body grew heavy with the 
increasing ills of extreme age, and the hard breathing of tussis. 
Yet not for this would the holy man lie on a bed or relax his fasts. 
One day his strength gradually forsook him, and he found himself 
sinking with fatigue. So as the sun was setting he directed two 
brothers who stood by to go out and shut the door of his cell after 
them. He told them that when the time came for them to 
celebrate the matin hymns at dawn, they might return. Un- 
willingly they went out, but did not go at once to rest ; and 
waited anxiously, concealing themselves by the master's cell. 
After a while, as they listened intent and could hear no movement 
of his body nor any sound of his voice, correctly conjecturing what 
had happened, they broke open the door, rushed in and lighted 
the light ; and there, the blessed soul having been transported to 
heaven, they found the holy corpse supine. It lay as a celestial 
pearl neglected, but hereafter to be placed with honour in the 
treasury of the King." 2 

The spiritual unity which lies beneath the actions 
of Romuald should be sought in the reasons and temper of 
the hermit life. To perfect the soul for its passage to 
eternity is the fundamental motive. Monastic logic con- 
vinces the man that this can best be accomplished through 
withdrawal from the temptations of the world ; and the 
hermit temper draws irresistibly to solitude. The only 
consistent social function left to such a man is that of 
turning the steps of his fellows to his own recluse path of 
perfection. Romuald's life manifests such motives and such 
temper, and also this one function passionately performed. 

1 Cf. Sackur, Die Cluniacenser, i. 328 note. 
2 Vita Romualdi, 69. 

chap, xvn THE HERMIT TEMPER 397 

We see in him no love of kind, but only a fiery passion for 
their salvation. Also we see the absorption of self in self 
with God, the harsh intolerance of other men, the fierce 
aversions and the passionate cravings which are germane to 
the hermit life. 

Physical self-mortification is the element of the hermit 
life most difficult for modern people to understand. Yet 
nothing in Romuald extorted more entire admiration from 
his biographer than his austerities. And if there was one 
man on earth whom Peter admired as much as he did 
Romuald, it was a certain mail-coated Dominicus, a virtuoso 
in self -mortification. He exhibits its purging and penitential 
motives. Scourging purifies the body from carnality ; that 
is one motive. It also atones for sins, and lessens the purga- 
torial period after death ; this is another. There is a third 
which is rooted rather in temperament than in reason. This 
is contrition ; the contrite heart may love to flagellate itself 
in love of Him who suffered sinless. 

Dominicus was surnamed Loricatus because he wore 
a coat of mail against the attacks of the devil through the 
frailties of the too-comfortable flesh. In his youth, family 
influence had installed him in a snug ecclesiastic berth. 
As he reached maturity and bethought himself, the sense 
of this involuntary simoniacal contamination filled him with 
remorse. He abjured the world and became a member of 
the hermit community of Fonte Avellana, where Damiani 
exercised the authority of prior. Yet the latter looked on 
Dominic as his master, whom he admired to the pitch of 
marvel, while regretting that he lacked himself the strength 
and leisure to equal his flagellations. So Peter was 
enraptured with this wonder of a Dominic, and wrote his 
biography, which deserved telling if, as Peter says, his 
entire life, his tota quippe vita, was a preaching and an 
edification, instruction and discipline (praedicatio, aediftcatio, 
doctrina, disciplina). 

One descriptive passage from it will suffice : 

" I am speaking of Dominic, my teacher and my master, 
whose tongue indeed is rustic, but whose life is polished and 
accomplished (artificiosa satis et lepida). His life indeed preaches 
more effectively by its living actions (vivis operibus) than a barren 


tongue which inanely weighs out the balanced phrases of a be- 
spangled urbanity (phaleratae urbanitatis) . Through a long course 
of gliding years, girt with iron mail, he has waged truceless war 
against the wicked spirits ; with cuirassed body and heart always 
ready for battle, he marches eager warrior against the hostile array. 

" Likewise it is his regular and unremitting habit, with a rod 
in each hand every day to beat time upon his naked body, and 
thus scourge out two psalters. And this even in the slacker 
season. For in Lent or when he has a penance to perform (and 
he often undertakes a penance of a hundred years), each day, 
while he plies himself with his rods, he pays off at least three 
psalters repeating them mentally (meditando). 

" The penance of a hundred years is performed thus : With 
us three thousand blows satisfies a year of penance ; and the 
chanting (modulatio) of ten psalms, as has often been tested, 
admits one thousand blows. Now, clearly, as the Psalter consists 
of one hundred and fifty psalms, any one computing correctly will 
see that five years of penance lie in chanting one psalter, with this 
discipline. Now, whether you take five times twenty or twenty 
times five you have a hundred. Consequently whoever chants 
twenty psalters, with this accompanying discipline, may be con- 
fident of having performed a hundred years of penance. Herein 
our Dominic outdoes those who struck with only one hand ; for 
he, a true son of Benjamin, wars indefatigably with both hands 
against the rebellious allurements of the flesh. He has told me 
himself that he easily accomplishes a penance of a hundred years 
in six days." 1 

This loricated Dominic was conscious of his virtuosity. 
We find him at the beginning of a certain Lent, requesting 
the imposition of a penance of a thousand years ! Again, 
he comes after vespers to Damiani's cell to tell him that 
between morning and evening he has broken his record 
by " doing " eight psalters ! And once more we read of his 
coming troubled to his master, saying : " You have written, 
as I have just heard, that in one day I chanted nine psalters 
with corporeal discipline. When I heard it, I turned pale 
and groaned. ' Woe is me/ I said ; ' without my knowledge, 
this has been written of me, and yet I do not know whether 
I could do it.' So I am going to try again, and I shall 
certainly find out." 2 

1 Peter Damiani, Vitae SS. Rodulphi et Dominici loricati, cap. 8 (Migne 144, 
col. 1015). 

a Ibid. cap. 10 (Migne 144, col. 1015). 

chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 399 

Dominic probably derived more pleasure than pain from 
his scourgings. For besides the vanity of achievement, and 
some ecstasy of contrition, the flesh itself turns morbid and 
rejoices in its laceration. Yet such austerity is pre-eminently 
penal, and is initially impelled by fear. With Dominic, 
with Romuald, with Damiani, the fear of hell entered the 
motives of the secluded life. To observe this fear writ large 
in panic terror, we turn to the old legend regarding the con- 
version of Bruno of Cologne, the founder of the Carthusian 
Order. The scene is laid in Paris, where (with much im- 
probability) Bruno is supposed to be studying in the year 
1082. One of the most learned and pious of the doctors 
of theology died. His funeral had been celebrated, and his 
body was about to be carried to the grave, when the corpse 
raised its head and cried aloud with a dreadful voice : 
" Justd Dei judicio accusatus sum." Then the head fell 
back. The people, terror-stricken, postponed the interment 
to the following day, when again, as before, with a grievous 
and terrible voice the corpse raised its head and cried : 
" Justo Dei judicio judicatus sum." Amid general terror 
the interment was again postponed to the next day, when, 
as before, with a horrible cry the corpse shrieked : " Justo 
Dei judicio condemnatus sum." 

At this, Bruno, impressed and terrified, said to his 
friends : " Beloved, what shall we do ? Unless we fly we 
shall all perish utterly. Let us renounce the world, and, 
like Anthony and John the Baptist, seek the caves of the 
desert, that we may escape the wrath of the Judge, and 
reach the port of salvation." So they flee, and the Carthusian 
Order, with its terrific asceticism, begins. 1 

This story, aside from its marvellous character, does not 
harmonize with the more authentic facts of Bruno's life. It 

1 This story is told in all the early lives of Bruno, the Vita antiquior, the Vita 
altera, and the Vita tertia (Migne, Pat. Lot. 152, col. 482, 493, and 525). These 
lives, especially the Vita altera, are interesting illustrations of the ascetic spirit, 
which, as might be expected, also moulds Bruno's thoughts and his understanding 
of Scripture. All of which appears in his long Expositio in Psalmos (Migne, Pat. 
Lot. 152). To us, for example, the note of the twenty- third (in the Vulgate the 
twenty-second) psalm is love ; to Bruno it is disciplinary guidance : the Lord 
guides me in the place of pasture, that is, He is my guide lest I go astray in the 
Scriptures, where the souls of the faithful are fed ; I shall not want, that is, an 
understanding of them shall not fail me. Thy rod, that is the lesser tribulation, 
thy staff, that is the greater tribulation, correct and chastise me. 


is, however, a striking expression of the ascetic fear ; it also 
reflects psychologic truth. Who but the man himself knows 
the naughtiness of his own heart ? its never-to-be-disclosed 
vile and morbid thoughts ? The modern may realize this. 
Hamlet did. And it was just such a phase of self-conscious- 
ness as the mediaeval imagination would transform into a 
tale of horror. Bruno himself had been a learned doctor, a 
teacher, and the head of the cathedral school at Rheims ; 
he had been a zealous soldier of the Church. In all this 
he had not found peace. The profession of a doctor of 
theology, even when coupled with more active belligerency 
for the Church, afforded no certain salvation. The story of 
the Paris doctor may have symbolized the anxieties which 
dwelt in Bruno's breast, until under their stimulus the 
yearnings of a solitary temper gathered head and at last 
brought him with six followers to Carthusia {la grande 
Chartreuse), which lies to the north of Grenoble. 1084 
is the year of its beginning. 

It was a hermit community, the brethren living two by 
two in isolated cells, but meeting for divine service in a little 
chapel. Camaldoli may have been the model. Bruno 
wrote no regula for his followers, and the practices of the 
Order were first formulated by Guigo, the fifth prior, in 
his Consuetudines Cartusiae, about the year 1130. 1 These 
permit a limited intercourse among the brethren, for the 
service of God and the regulation of their own lives. Yet 
the broader object was seclusion. Not only severance from 
the world, but the seclusion of the brethren from each other, 
in solitary labour and contemplation, was their ideal. The 
asceticism of these Consuetudines is of the strictest. And 
somehow it would seem as if in the Carthusian Order the 
frailties of the spirit and the lust of the flesh were to be 
permanently vanquished by this set life of labour, meditation, 
and rigid asceticism. Carthusia nunquam reformata, quia 
nunquam deformata, remained true century after century. 
This long freedom from corruption was partly due to the 
lofty and somewhat exclusive character of the brotherhood. 

1 Guigo was born in 1083 at St. Romain near Valence, of noble family (like 
most monks of prominence). There was close sympathy between him and St, 
Bernard, as their letters show. Cf. post, Chapter XVIII. 

chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 401 

Carthusia was no broad way for the monastic multitude. Its 
monks were relatively few and holy, the select of God. Men 
of devout piety, they must be. It was also needful that they 
should be possessed of such intellectual endowment and 
meditative capacity as would with God's grace yield provision 
for a life of solitary thought. 

The intellectual piety of Carthusia finds its loftiest ex- 
pression in the Meditationes of this same prior Guigo, 1 
the form of which calls to mind the Reflections of Marcus 
Aurelius or Epictetus. In substance they reflect Augustine's 
intellectual devoutness and many of his thoughts. But they 
seem Guigo's very own, fruit of his own reflection ; and thus 
incidentally they afford an illustration of the general principle 
that by the twelfth century the Middle Ages had made over 
into themselves what they had drawn from the Fathers 
or from the pagan antique. Guigo's Meditationes possess 
spiritual calm ; their logic is unhesitating ; it is remorselessly 
correct, however incomplete may be its premises or its com- 
prehension of life's data. Whoever wishes to know the high 
contemplative mind of monastic seclusion in the twelfth 
century may learn it from this work. A number of its 
precepts are given here for the sake of their illustrative 
pertinency and intrinsic merit, and because our author is not 
very widely known. He begins with general reflections 
upon Veritas and Pax : 

" Truth should be set in the middle, as something beautiful. 
Nor, if any one abhors it, do thou condemn, but pity. Thou 
indeed, who desirest to come to it, why dost thou spurn it when it 
chides thy faults ? 

" Without form and comeliness and fastened to the cross, truth 
is to be worshipped. 

" If thou speakest truth not from love of truth but from wish 
to injure another, thou wilt not gain the reward of a truthspeaker 
but the punishment of a defamer. 

" Truth is life and eternal salvation. Therefore you ought to 
pity any one whom it displeases. For to that extent he is dead 
and lost. But you, perverse one, would not tell him the truth 
unless you thought it bitter and intolerable to him. You do 
still worse when in order to please men you speak a truth 
which delights them as much as if it were lies and flattery. Not 

1 Migne 153, col. 601-631. 
VOL. I 2 D 

4 02 THE MEDIAEVAL MIND bookiii 

because it displeases or pleases should truth be spoken, but as it 
profits. Yet be silent when it would do harm, as light to weak 

" Blessed is he whose mind is moved or affected only by the 
perception and love of truth, and whose body is moved only by 
his mind. Thus the body, like the mind, is moved by truth alone. 
For if there is no stirring in the mind save that of truth, and none 
in the body save that from the mind, then also there is no stirring 
in the body save from truth, that is from God. 

" Thou dost all things for the sake of peace, toward which the 
way lies through truth alone, which is thine adversary in this life. 
Therefore either subject thee to it or it to thee. For nothing else 
is left thee. 

" The lake does not boast because it abounds in water ; for that 
is from the source. So as to thy peace. Its cause is always 
something else. Therefore thy peace is shifting and inconstant 
in proportion to the instability of its cause. How worthless is it 
when it arises from the pleasingness of a human face ! 

" Let not temporal things be the cause of thy peace ; for then 
wilt thou be as worthless and fragile as they. You would have 
such a peace in common with the brutes ; let thine be that of the 
angels, which proceeds from truth. 

" The beginning of the return to truth is to be displeased with 
falsity. Blame precedes correction. 

" In the cares which engage thee for thy salvation, no service 
or medicine is more useful than to blame and despise thyself. 
Whoever does this for thee is thy helper. 

" Easy is the way to God, since it advances by laying down 
burdens. So far then unburden thyself that, all things laid aside, 
thou mayest deny thyself. 

" When anything good is said of thee, it is but as a rumour 
regarding which thou knowest better. 

" Consider the two experiences of filling and emptying (in- 
gestionis et egestionis) ; which blesses thee more ? That burdens 
thee with useless matters ; this disburdens thee. To have had 
that is to have devoured it altogether. Nothing remains for hope. 
So in all things of sense. They perish all. And what of thee after 
these ? Set thy love and hope on what will not pass. 

" Bestial pleasure comes from the senses of the flesh ; it is 
diabolic, a thing of arrogance, envy, and deceit ; philosophic 
pleasure is to know the creature ; the angelic pleasure is to know 
and love God. 

" When we take our pleasure from that from which brutes draw 
pleasure — from lust like dogs, or from gluttony like swine — our 
souls become like theirs. Yet we do not shudder. I had rather 
have a dog's body than his soul. It would be more tolerable if 

chap, xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 403 

our body changed to bestial shape, while our soul remained in its 
dignity, that is, in the likeness of God. 

" Readily man entangles himself in love of bodies and of vanity ; 
but, willy, nilly, he is torn with fear and grief at their dissolution. 
For the love of perishable things is as a fountain of useless fears 
and sorrows. The Lord frees the poor man from the mighty, by 
loosing him from the fetter of earthly love. 

" The human soul is tortured in itself as long as it can be 
tortured, that is, as long as it loves anything besides God. 

" Thou hast been clinging to one syllable of a great song, 
and art troubled when that wisest Singer proceeds in His singing. 
For the syllable which alone thou wast loving is withdrawn from 
thee, and others succeed in order. He does not sing to thee 
alone, nor to thy will, but His. The syllables which succeed are 
distasteful to thee because they drive on that one which thou wast 
loving evilly. 

" All matters which are called adverse are adverse only to the 
wicked, that is, those who love the creature instead of the Creator. 

" If in any way thou art tormented by fear, or anger or hate 
or pain of any kind, lay it to thyself, that is, to thy concupiscence, 
ignorance, or sloth. And if any one wishes to injure thee, lay that 
to his concupiscence. Thy distress is evidence of thy sin in loving 
anything destructible, having dismissed God. Thou dost grieve 
over the ruined show ; lay it to thee and thine error because thou 
hast been cleaving to things that may be broken. 

" He seeks a long temptation who seeks a long life. 

" What God has not loved in His friends — power, rank, riches, 
dignities — do not thou love in thine. 

" Snares thou eatest, drinkest, wearest, sleepest in ; all things 
are snares. 

" We are exiles through love and wantonness and inclination, 
not through locality ; exiles in the country of defilement, of dark 
passions, of ignorance, of wicked loves and hates. 

" In so far as thou lovest thyself — that is, this temporal life — 
so far dost thou love what is transitory. 

" Adverse matters do not make thee wretched, but rather show 
thee to have been so ; prosperity blinds the soul by covering and 
increasing misery, not by removing it. 

" Every one ought to love all men. Whoever wishes another 
to show special love toward him is a robber, and an offender 
against all. 

" Mixed through this body, thou wast wretched enough ; for 
thou wast subject to all its corruptions, even to the bite of the 
flea or the sorunculus. This did not suffice thee. Thou hast 
mixed thyself up with other quasi bodies, the opinion of men, 
admiration, love, honour, fear and the like. When these are 


harmed, pain comes to thee, as from bodily hurt. Thy honour is 
hurt when contempt is shown thee ; and so with the rest. Think 
also thus regarding bodily forms. 

" Unless thou hast despised whatever men can do to thwart 
or aid thee, thou wilt not be able to contemn their disposition 
toward thee, their hate and love, their opinions, good or bad. 

" Why dost thou wish to be loved by men ? 

" Who rejoices in praise, loses praise. 

" Who is pained or angered by the loss of any temporal thing, 
shows himself worth what he has lost. 

" No thing ought to wish to be loved as good, unless it blesses 
its lover for the very reason that it is loved. But no thing does 
this if it needs its lover, or is helped by loving or being loved by 
another. Most cruel, then, is the thing which wishes another 
to place affection and hope on it when it cannot benefit that other. 
The devils do this, who wish men to be engrossed in their service 
instead of God's. So cry to thy lovers, Cease, ye wretched, to 
admire or respect or honour me ; for I, miserable wretch, can 
neither aid myself nor you, but rather need your aid. 

" So far as in thee is, thou hast destroyed all men, for thou 
hast put thyself between them and God, so that gazing on thee 
and ignoring God, they might admire and praise thee alone. 
This is utterly profitless to thee and them, not to say destructive. 

" Whatever form thou dost enjoy is as the male to thy mind. 
For thy mind yields and lies down to it. Thou dost not assimilate 
it, but it thee. Its image endures, like an idol in its temple, to 
which thou dost sacrifice neither ox nor goat, but thy rational soul 
and thy body, to wit, thy whole self, when thou enjoyest it. 

" See how, as in a wine-shop, thou dost prostitute thine as a 
venal love, and to the measure of pay weighest thyself out to men. 
In this wine-shop he receives nothing who gives nothing. And 
yet thou wouldst not have that which thou dost sell, unless freely 
from above it had been given to thee who gave nothing. There- 
fore thou hast received thy pay. 

" To be empty and removed from God is to make ready for lust. 

" Who wishes to enjoy thee in thyself, deserves from thee the 
thanks of flies and fleas who suck thy blood. 

" This is the very sum of human depravity to forsake the better, 
which is God, and to regard the lesser and cleave to them by 
delighting in them — these temporalities ! 

" The beetle as it flies sees everything, and then selects nothing 
that is beautiful or wholesome or durable, but settles down upon 
dung. So thy soul in mental flight (intuitu pervolans) surveying 
heaven and earth and whatever is great and precious therein, 
cleaves to none of these, but embraces the cheap and dirty things 
occurring to its thought. Blush for this. 

ghap.xvii THE HERMIT TEMPER 405 

" When thou pleadest with God not to take from thee some- 
thing to which thou cleavest by desire, it is as if an adulteress 
caught by her husband in the act, should not ask pardon for her 
crime, but beg him not to interrupt her pleasure. It is not enough 
for thee to go wantoning from God, but thou must incline Him to 
save and approve the things in which thou takest delight to thy 
undoing — the forms of bodies, their savours and their colours. 

" The poverty of thine inner vision of God, purblind as thou 
art, although He is there, makes thee willing to go out of doors 
from thine own hearth, refusing to linger within thyself, as in the 
dark. So thou hast nothing to do but go gaping after the external 
forms of bodies and the opinions of men. Thou dost carry thyself 
in this world as if thou hadst come hither to gaze and wonder at 
the forms of bodies. 

" May God be gracious to thee, that the feet of thy mind may 
find no resting-place, so that somehow, O soul, thou mayest return 
to the Ark, like Noah's dove. 

" Prosperity is a snare, adversity the knife that cuts it ; 
prosperity imprisons us from the love of God ; adversity is the 
battering-ram which breaks the dungeon in pieces. 

" Since you are taken only by pleasure, you should shun 
whatever gives it. The Christian soul is safe only in adversity. 
From what thou cherishest God makes thee rods. 

" The only medicine for every pain and torment is contempt 
for whatever in thee is hurt by them, and the turning of the 
mind to God. 

" As many carnal pleasures as thou spurnest, just so many 
snares of the devil dost thou escape. As many tribulations — 
especially those for truth's sake — as thou dost flee, so many 
salutary remedies thou spurnest. 

" In hope thou mayest cherish the unripened grain ; thus love 
those who are not yet good. Be such toward all as the Truth 
has shown itself toward thee. Just as it has sustained and loved 
thee for thy betterment, so do thou sustain and love men in order 
to better them. 

" You are set as a standard to blunt the darts of the enemy, 
that is, to destroy evil by opposing good to it. You should never 
return evil for evil, except perhaps medicinally ; which is not to 
return evil but good. 

" If to cleave to God is thine whole and only good, thine whole 
and only evil is separation from Him. 

" Who loves all will be saved without doubt ; but who is loved 
by men will not for that reason be saved." 

The unity of these Meditationes lies in the absolute 
manner in which the meditating soul attaches itself to God 


as its whole and only good. Herein Guigo's thoughts are 
Augustinian. One notes their clear intellectual tone. 
Nothing lures the thinker from his aim and goal of God. 
He abhors whatever might distract him ; and as to all 
except God and God's commands, he is indifferent. Guigo 
detests impermanence as keenly as did the Brahmin and 
Buddhist meditators of India. He has as high regard as 
any Indian or Greek philosopher for a life of thought. But 
there are differences between the Carthusian prior and the 
Greek or Indian sage. Guigo's renunciation does not (from 
his standpoint) penetrate life as deeply as Gotama's ; for 
Guigo renounces only things comparatively insignificant, so 
utterly transient are they, so completely they pale before 
the light of his goal of God. Therein shall lie clearer 
attainment than lay at the end of any Indian chain of 
reasoning. So note well, that Guigo, like other Christians, 
is not essentially a renouncer, but one who attains and 

The difference between him and the Greek is also 
patent. The source of his blue lake of thought is not 
himself, but God. Although calm and sustained by reason, 
he is rationally the opposite of self-reliant, and so the 
opposite of the ideal Stoic or Aristotelian. God is his 
Creator, the source of his thoughts, the loadstar of his 
meditations, the all-comprehending object of his desire. 

We find in Guigo further specific elements of Christian 
asceticism, which sharpen his repugnances for the world of 
transient phenomena. Those phenomena mostly contain 
elements of sin : all pleasure is temptation and a snare ; 
adversity keeps the soul's wings trimmed true. So the 
main content of passing mortal life, while not evil in itself, 
is so charged with temptation and allure, that it is worthy 
only of avoidance. The transient, the physical, the brutal, 
the diabolic — one shades into the next, and leads on to the 
last. Have none of them, O Soul ! They are snares all. 

Of course, Guigo has the specific monkish horror of 
sexual lust, that chief of fleshly snares. But he goes further. 
With him all particular, disproportionate love is wrong ; 
love no one, and desire not to be loved, out of the pro- 
portionment of the common love which God has for all His 

chap, xvn THE HERMIT TEMPER 407 

creatures : so love you, and not otherwise. Others, even 
women, attained this standard. In the legend, St. Elizabeth 
of Hungary gives thanks that she loves her own children no 
more than others'. She is no mother, but a saint. So 
Guigo will love all — love indeed ? one queries. Thus also 
will he have others hold themselves toward him, lest he 
be a stumbling-block in their or his salvation. 

Yea, salvation ! If indeed this monk shall not have 
attained that, of a truth he would be of all men most miser- 
able — save for the quiet, thought-filled calm which is his 
inner and his veritable life. It is a calm not riven by the 
storms which drove the soul of Peter Damiani. God was 
not less to Guigo ; but the temperaments of the two men 
differed. Not beyond or out of one's nature can one love 
or yearn, or even know the stress of storm. 



Through the prodigious power of his personality, St. 
Bernard gave new life to monasticism, promoted the reform 
of the secular clergy and the suppression of heresy, ended 
a papal schism, set on foot the Second Crusade, and for a 
quarter of a century swayed Christendom as never holy man 
before or after him. An adequate account of his career 
would embrace the entire history of the first half of the 
twelfth century. 1 

The man who was to move men with his love, and quell 
the proud with fear, had, as a youth, a graceful figure, a 
sweet countenance, and the most winning manners. Later 
in life he is spoken of as cheerfully bearing reproaches, but 
shamefaced at praise, and his gentle manners are again 

"As a helpmeet for his holy spirit, God made his body to 
conform. In his flesh there was visible a certain grace, but 
spiritual rather than of the flesh. A brightness not of earth shone 
in his look ; there was an angelic purity in his eyes, and a dove- 
like simplicity. The beauty of the inner man was so great that it 
would burst forth in visible tokens, and the outer man would seem 
bathed from the store of inward purity and copious grace. His 
frame was of the slightest (tenuis simum) , and most spare of flesh ; 
a blush often tinged the delicate skin of his cheeks. And a certain 
natural heat (quidquid caloris naturalis) was in him, arising from 
assiduous meditation and penitent zeal. His hair was bright 

1 A bibliography of what has been written on Bernard would make a volume. 
His own writings and the Vitae and Acta (as edited by Mabillon) are printed in 
Migne, tomes 182-185. The Vie de Saint Bernard, by the abbe Vacandard, in 
two volumes, is to be recommended (2nd ed., Paris, 1897). 


chap, xviii SAINT BERNARD 409 

yellow, his beard reddish with some white hairs toward the end of 
his life. Actually of medium stature, he looked taller." x 

This same biography says : 

" He who had set him apart, from his mother's womb, for the 
work of a preacher, had given him, with a weak body, a voice 
sufficiently strong and clear. His speech, whatever persons he 
spoke to for the edifying of souls, was adapted to his audience ; 
for he knew the intelligence, the habits and occupations of each 
and all. To country folk he spoke as if born and bred in the 
country ; and so to other classes, as if he had been always occu- 
pied with their business. He was learned with the erudite, and 
simple with the simple, and with spiritual men rich in illustrations 
of perfection and wisdom. He adapted himself to all, desiring to 
gain all for Christ." 2 

Bernard was born of noble parents at the Chateau of 
Fontaines, near Dijon, in the year 1090, and was educated 
in a church school at Chatillon on the Seine. It is an oft- 
told story, how, when little more than twenty years of age, 
he drew together a band formed of his own brothers, his 
uncle, and his friends, and led them to Citeaux, 3 his ardent 
soul unsatisfied so long as one held back. Three years 
later, in 1115, the Abbot, Stephen Harding, entrusted him 
with the headship of the new monastery, to be founded in 
the domains of the Count of Troyes. Bernard set forth 
with twelve companions, came to Clara Vallis on the river 
Aube, and placed his convent in that austere solitude. 

Great were the attractions of Clairvaux (Clara Vallis) 
under Bernard's vigorous and loving rule. Its monks 
increased so rapidly and so constantly that during its 
founder's life sixty-five bands were sent forth to rear new 
convents. Meanwhile, Bernard's activities and influence 
widened, till they seemed to compass western Christendom. 

1 Vita prima, iii. cap. i (Migne, Pat. Lot. 185). This Vita was written by 
contemporaries of the saint who knew him intimately. But one must be on one's 
guard as to these apparently close descriptions of the saints in their vitae ; for 
they are commonly conventionalized. This description of Bernard, excepting 
perhaps the colour of his hair, would have fitted Francis of Assisi. 

2 Vita prima, iii. 3. Bernard himself said that his aim in preaching was not 
so much to expound the words (of Scripture) as to move his hearers' hearts (Sermo 
xvi. in Cantica canticorum). That his preaching was resistless is universally 

3 See, e.g., Vacandard, o.c. chap. i. 


He had become a power in the politics of Church and State. 
In 1 130 he was summoned by Louis le Gros practically to 
determine the claims of the rival Popes Innocent II. and 
Anacletus II. He decided for the former, and was the 
chief instrument of his eventual reinstatement at Rome. 
Before this Bernard's health had been broken by his extreme 
austerities. Yet even the lamentable failure of the Second 
Crusade, zealously promoted by him, did not break his 
power over Europe, which continued unimpaired until his 
death in 1153. 

This active and masterful man was impelled by those 
elements of the vita contemplativa which formed his inner 
self. First and last and always he was a monk. Had he 
not been the very monk he was, he would not have been the 
dominator of men and situations that he proved himself to 
be. Temperament fashions the objects of contemplation, and 
shapes the yearning and aversions, of great monks. The 
temperamental element of love — the love of God and man, 
with its appurtenant detestations — made the heart of 
Bernard's vita contemplativa, and impassioned and empowered 
his active faculties. It was the keynote of his life : in his 
letters it speaks in words of fire, while other writings of the 
saint analyse this great human quality with profundity and 
truth. In these he renders explicit the modes of affection 
which man may have for man and above all for God ; he 
sets them forth as the path as well as goal of life on earth, 
and then as the rapt summit of attainment in the life to 
come. Through all its stages, as it flows from self to fellow, 
as it rises from man to God, love still is love, and forms the 
unifying principle among men and between them and God. 

Let us trace in his letters the nature and the power of 
Bernard's love, and see with what yearning he loved his 
fellows, seeking to withdraw them from the world ; and how 
his love strove to be as sword and armour against the flesh 
and the devil. By easy transition we shall pass to Bernard's 
warning wrath, flung against those who would turn the 
struggling soul aside, or threaten the Church's peace ; then 
by more arduous, but still unbroken stages, we may rise to 
the love of Jesus, and through love of the God-man to love 
of God. We shall realize at the close why that last mediaeval 

chap, xviii SAINT BERNARD 411 

assessor of destinies, whose name was Dante Alighieri, 
selected St. Bernard as the exponent of the blessed vision 
which is salvation's crown in the paradise of God. 1 

The way of life at Clara Vallis might discourage monks 
of feeble zeal. Among the brethren of these early days was 
one named Robert, a cousin of the Abbot, seemingly of weak 
and petulant disposition. Soon he fled, to seek a softer cell 
in Cluny, the great and rich monastery to which his parents 
appear to have dedicated him in childhood. For a while 
Bernard suppressed his grief ; but the day came when he 
could endure no longer Robert's abandonment of his soul's 
safety and of the friend who yearned for him. He stole out 
of the monastery, accompanied by a monk named William. 
There, in the open (sub did), Bernard dictated a long letter to 
be sent to the deserter. While the two were busy, the one 
dictating, the other writing, a rainstorm broke upon them. 
William wished to stop. " It is God's work ; write and fear 
not," said Bernard. So William wrote on, in the midst of 
the rain ; but no drop fell on him or the parchment ; for 
the power of love which dictated the letter preserved the 
parchment on which it was being written. 2 

Whoever has read this letter in its own fervent Latin 
will not care to dispute this miracle, for which it stands first 
in the collection of Bernard's correspondence. Bernard does 
not recriminate or argue in it ; his love shall bring the young 
monk back to him. Yes, yes, he says to all that the other 
has urged regarding fancied slights and persecution : 

" Quite right ; I admit it. I am not writing in order to con- 
tend, but to end contention. To flee persecution is no fault in 
him who flees, but in him who pursues ; I do not deny it. I pass 
over what has happened ; I do not ask why or how it happened. 
I do not discuss faults, I do not dispute as to the circumstances, 
I have no memory for injuries. I speak only what is in my heart. 
Wretched me, that I lack thee, that I do not see thee, that I am 
living without thee, for whom to die would be to live ; without 
whom to live, is to die. I ask not why thou hast gone away ; I 
complain only that thou dost not return. Come, and there shall 
be peace ; return, and all shall be made good. 

1 Post, Chapter XLIV. 

2 Vita prima, i. cap. n. This William became Abbot of St. Thierry and one 
of Bernard's biographers. 


" It was certainly my fault that thou didst go away. I was too 
austere with thy young years, and treated thee inhumanly. So 
thou saidst when here, and so I hear thou dost still reproach me. 
But that shall not be imputed to thee. I never meant it harshly ; 
I was only indiscreet. Now thou wilt find me different, and I thee. 
Where before thou didst fear the master, thou shalt now embrace 
the companion. Do not think that I will not excuse any fault of 
thine. Dost thou wish to be quite free from fault ? then return. 
If thou wilt forget thy fault I will pardon it ; also pardon thou me, 
and I too will forget my fault." 

Bernard then argues long and passionately against those 
who had led the young man away and received him with such 
blandishments at Cluny ; and passionately he argues against 
the insidious softening of monastic principles. 

" Arise, soldier of Christ, arise, shake off the dust, return to the 
battle whence thou hast fled, and more bravely shalt thou fight 
and more gloriously triumph. Christ has many soldiers who 
bravely began, stood fast and conquered ; He has few who have 
turned from flight and renewed the combat. Everything rare 
is precious ; and thou among that rare company shalt the more 
radiantly shine. 

" Thou art fearful ? so be it ; but why dost thou fear where 
there is no fear, and why dost thou not fear where everything is to 
be feared ? Because thou hast fled from the battle-line, dost thou 
think to have escaped the foe ? It is easier for the Adversary to 
pursue a fugitive than to bear himself against manful defence. 
Secure, arms cast aside, thou takest thy morning slumbers, the 
hour when Christ will have arisen ! The multitude of enemies 
beset the house, and thou sleepest. Is it safer to be caught alone 
and sleeping, than armed with others in the field ? Arouse thee, 
seize thy arms, and escape to thy fellow-soldiers. Dost thou 
recoil at the weight of thy arms, O delicate soldier ! Before the 
enemy's darts the shield is no burden, nor the helmet heavy. 
The bravest soldiers tremble when the trumpet is heard before 
the battle is joined ; but then hope of victory and fear of defeat 
make them brave. How canst thou tremble, walled round with 
the zeal of thy armed brethren, angels bearing aid at thy right 
hand; and thy leader Christ ? There shalt thou safely fight, 
secure of victory. O battle, safe with Christ and for Christ ! 
In which there is no wound or defeat or circumvention so long 
as thou fleest not. Only flight loses the victory, which death 
does not lose. Blessed art thou, and quickly to be crowned, 
dying in battle. Woe for thee, if recoiling, thou losest at once the 
victory and the crown — -which may He avert, my beloved son, 


who in the Judgment will award thee deeper damnation because 
of this letter of mine if He finds thee to have taken no amendment 
from it." 

" It is God's work," said Bernard to the hesitating scribe. 
These words suggest the character of the love which inspired 
this letter. He loved Robert as man yearns for man ; but 
his motive was to do God's will, and win the young man 
back to salvation. In after years this young man returned 
to Clara Vallis. 

It was Bernard's lot to write many letters urging pro- 
crastinators to fulfil their vows, 1 or appealing to those who 
had laid aside the arms of austerity, perhaps betaking them- 
selves to the more worldly life of the secular clergy. This 
seems to have been the case with a young canon Fulco, 
whom an ambitious uncle sought to draw back to the world, 
or at least to a career of sacerdotal emolument. In fact, 
Fulco at last became an archdeacon ; from which it may be 
inferred that in his case Bernard's appeal was not successful. 
He had poured forth his arguments in an ardent letter. 2 
Love compels him to use words to make the recipient grieve ; 
for love would have him feel grief, that he might no longer 
have true cause for grief — good mother love, who can cherish 
the weak, exercise those who have entered upon their course, 
or quell the restless, and so show herself differently toward 
her sons, all of whom she loves. This letter, like the one to 
Robert, concludes with a burning peroration : 

" What dost thou in the city, dainty soldier ? Thy fellows 
whom thou hast deserted, fight and conquer ; they storm heaven 
(coelum rapiunt) and reign, and thou, sitting on thy palfrey 
(ambulatorem) , clothed in purple and fine linen, goest ambling 
about the highways ! " 

Bernard also wrote letters of consolation to parents whose 
sons had become monks, or letters of warning to those 
who sought to withdraw a monk from his good fight. In 
one instance, his influence had made a monk of a youth 
of gentle birth named Godfrey, to his parents' grief. So 
Bernard writes to them : 

" If God makes your son His also, what have you lost, or 

1 E.g. Ep. 107. 2 Ep. 2. 


he ? He, from rich, becomes richer, from being noble, still more 
illustrious, and what is more than all, from a sinner he becomes 
a saint. It behoved him to be made ready for the Kingdom pre- 
pared for him from the foundation of the world, and for this 
reason it is well for him to spend with us his short span of days, 
so that clean from the filth of living in the world, earth's dust 
shaken off, he may become fit for the heavenly mansion. If you 
love him you will rejoice that he goes to his Father, and such a 
Father ! He goes to God, but you do not lose him ; rather 
through him you gain many sons. For all of us who belong to 
Clara Vallis have taken him to be our brother and you for our 

■ ■ Perhaps you fear this hard life for his tender body — that were 
to fear where there is nothing to fear. Have faith and be com- 
forted. I will be a father to him and he shall be my son until 
from my hands the Father of Mercies and God of all consolation 
shall receive him. Do not grieve ; do not weep ; your Godfrey is 
hastening to joy, not to sorrow. A father to him will I be, a 
mother too, a brother and a sister. I will make the crooked ways 
straight, and the steep places plain. I will so temper and provide 
for him that as his spirit profits, his body shall not want. So shall 
he serve the Lord in joy and gladness, and shall sing before Him, 
How great is the glory of the Lord." x 

Young Godfrey was a daintily nurtured plant. For all 
the Abbot's eloquence he did not stay in Clara Vallis. 
The world drew him back. It was now for the saint to 
weep : 

" I grieve over thee, my son Godfrey ; I grieve over thee. 
And with reason. For who would not lament that the flower of 
thy youth which, to the joy of angels, thou didst offer unsullied 
to God in the odour of sweetness, is now trampled on by demons, 
defiled with sins, and contaminated by the world. How could 
you, who were called by God, follow the devil recalling thee ? 
How could you, whom Christ had begun to draw to Himself, 
withdraw your foot from the very entry upon glory ? In thee 
I see the truth of those words : ' A man's foes are they of his own 
household.' Thy friends and neighbours drew near and stood 
up against thee. They called thee back into the jaws of the lion 
and have set thee again in the gates of death. They have set 
thee in darkness, like the dead ; and thou art nigh to go down 
into the belly of hell, which now is ravening to swallow thee. 

" Turn back, I say, turn back, before the abyss swallows you 
and the pit closes its mouth, before you are engulfed whence you 

1 Ep. no (this is the whole letter). 


shall not escape, before, bound hand and foot, you are cast into 
outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, 
before you are thrust into darkness, shut in with the gloom of 

" Perhaps you blush to return, where you have only now fallen 
away. Blush for flight, and not for turning to renew the combat. 
The conflict is not ended ; the hostile arrays have not withdrawn 
from each other. The victory still awaits you. If you are ready, 
we would not conquer without you, nor do we envy you your share 
of the glory. Joyful we will run to thee, and receive thee in our 
arms, crying : ' It is meet to make merry and be glad ; for this our 
son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.' " x 

Who knows whether this letter brought back the little 
monk ? Bernard wrote so lovingly to him, so gently to 
his parents. He could write otherwise, and show himself 
insensible to this world's pestering tears. To the importunate 
parents of a monk named Elias, who would drag him away 
from Clara Vallis, Bernard writes in their son's name 
thus : 

" To his dear parents, Ingorranus and Iveta, Elias, monk but 
sinner, sends daily prayers. 

" The only cause for which it is permitted not to obey parents 
is God ; for He said : ' Whoso loveth father or mother more than 
me is not worthy of me.' If you truly love me as good and faith- 
ful parents, why do you molest my endeavour to please the Father 
of all, and attempt to withdraw me from the service of Him, to 
serve whom is to reign ? For this I ought not to obey you as 
parents, but regard you as enemies. If you loved me, you would 
rejoice, because I go to my Father and yours. But what is there 
between you and me ? What have I from you save sin and 
misery ? And indeed the corruptible body which I carry I admit 
I have from you. Is it not enough that you brought miserable 
me into the misery of this hateful world ? that you, sinners, in 
your sin produced a sinner ? and that him born in sin, in sin you 
nourished ? Envying the mercy which I have obtained from 
Him who desireth not the death of a sinner, would you make me 
a child of hell ? 

" O harsh father ! savage mother ! parents cruel and impious 
— parents ! rather destroyers, whose grief is the safety of the 
child, whose consolation is the death of their son ! who would 
drag me back to the shipwreck which I, naked, escaped ; who 

1 Ep. 112 (the entire letter). The Latin of this letter is given post, Chapter 


would give me again to the robbers when through the good 
Samaritan I am a little recovering from my wounds. 

" Cease then, my parents," concludes the letter after many 
other reproofs, " cease to afflict yourselves with vain weeping and 
to disquiet me. No messengers you send will force me to leave. 
Clara Vallis will I never forsake. This is my rest, and here shall 
be my habitation. Here will I pray without ceasing for my sins 
and yours ; here with constant prayer will I implore that He 
whose love has separated us for a little while, will join us in another 
life happy and inseparable, — in whose love we may live forever 
and ever. Amen." x 

If Bernard was severe toward those who threatened 
some loved person's weal, his anger burned more fiercely 
against those whom he deemed enemies of God. Heavy 
was his hand upon the evils of the Church : " The insolence 
of the clergy — to which the bishop's neglect is mother — 
troubles the earth and molests the Church. The bishops 
give what is holy to the dogs, and pearls to swine." 2 

Likewise, fearlessly but with restraint arising from his 
respect for all power ordained of God, Bernard opposes 
kings. Thus he writes to Louis the Fat, in regard to the 
election of a bishop, with many protests, however, that he 
would not oppose the royal power — for which we note his 
reason : "If the whole world conspired to force me to do 
aught against kingly majesty, yet would I fear God, and 
would not dare to offend the king ordained by Him. For 
neither do I forget where I read that whosoever resisteth 
power, resisteth the ordinance of God." But — but — but — 
continues the letter, through many qualifyings which are 
also admonitions. At last come the words : " It is a fearful 
thing to fall into the hands of the living God, even for thee, 
O king." Thereupon the saint does not fail to speak his 
mind. 3 

Bernard's fiercest denunciations were reserved for heretics 
and schismatics, for Abaelard, for Arnold of Brescia, for 
the Antipope Anacletus — were they not enemies of God ? 
Clearly the saint saw and understood these men from his 
point of view. Thus in a letter to Innocent II. 4 he sums 
up his attitude towards Abaelard : " Peter Abaelard is 

1 Ep. in. 2 Ep. 152, ad Innocentuim papam, a.d. 1135. 

3 Ep. 170, ad Ludovicum. Written in 1138. * Ep. 191. 

chap, xvin SAINT BERNARD 417 

trying to make void the merit of Christian faith, when he 
deems himself able by human reason to comprehend God 
altogether. He ascends to the heavens and descends even 
to the abyss ! Nothing may hide from him in the depths of 
hell or in the heights above ! The man is great in his own 
eyes — this scrutinizer of Majesty and fabricator of heresies." 
Here was the gist of the matter. That a man should be great 
in his own eyes, apart from God, and teach others so, stirred 
Bernard's bowels. 1 

Of Arnold, the impetuous clerical revolutionist and pupil 
of Abaelard, Bernard writes with fury : " Arnold of Brescia, 
whose speech is honey and whose teaching poison, whose is 
the head of a dove and the tail of a scorpion, whom Brescia 
vomited forth, Rome abhorred, France repelled, Germany 
abominates, Italy will not receive, is said to be with you." 2 
Again, Bernard rejoices with great joy when he hears that 
the anti-pope who divided Christendom was dead. 3 

It is pleasant to turn back to Bernard's lovingness and 
mercy. His God would not condemn those who repented ; 
and the saint can be gentle toward sinners possibly repentant. 
He urges certain monks to receive back an erring brother : 
" Take him back then, you who are spiritual, in the spirit of 
gentleness ; let love be confirmed in him, and let good 
intention excuse the evil done. Receive back with joy him 
whom you wept as lost." 4 In another letter he urges a 
countess to be more lenient with her children ; 5 and there 
is a story of his begging a robber from the hands of the 
executioners, and leading him to Clara Vallis, where he 
became at length a holy man. 6 

So one sees Bernard's severity, his gentle mercy, and the 
love burning within him for his fellows' good. Such were 
the emotions of Bernard the saint. The man's human heart 

1 Cf. post, Chapter XXX VII. i., regarding this instance of Bernard's zeal. 
His position is critically set out in Wilhelm Meyer's " Die Anklagesatze des h. 
Bernard gegen Abaelard," Gottingische gelehrte Nachrichten, philol. hist. Klasse, 
1898, pp. 397-468. 

2 Ep. 196, ad Guidonen ; cf. Ep. 195 (a.d. 1140). See for the Latin of this 
letter post, Chapter XXXII. 

3 Ep. 147, to Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny (a.d. 1138). 

4 Ep. 101, ad religiosos ; cf. also Ep. 136. 

5 Ep. 300. 

6 Vita prima, lib. vii. cap. 15. 

VOL. I 2 E 


could also yearn, and feel bereavement in spite of faith. As 
his zeal draws him from land to land, he is home-sick for 
Clara Vallis. From Italy, in 1137, fighting to crush the 
anti-pope, a letter carries his yearning love to his dear ones 
there : 

" Sad is my soul, and not to be consoled, until I may return. 
For what consolation save you in the Lord have I in an evil time 
and in the place of my pilgrimage ? Wherever I go, your sweet 
recollection does not leave me ; but the sweeter the memory 
the more vexing is the absence. Alas ! my wandering not only 
is prolonged but aggravated. Hard enough is exile from the 
Lord, which is common to us all while we are pilgrims in the body. 
But I endure a special exile also, compelled to live away from you. 

" For a third time my bowels are torn from me. 1 Those little 
children are weaned before the time ; the very ones whom I begot 
through the Gospel I may not educate. I am forced to abandon 
my own, and care for the affairs of others ; and it is not easy to say 
whether to be dragged from the former, or to be involved in the 
latter is harder to bear. Thus, O good Jesus, my whole life is 
spent in grief and my years in groaning ! It is good for me, 
Lord, to die, rather than to live and not among my brothers, my 
own household, my own dearest ones." 2 

Bernard had a younger brother, Gerard, whom he deeply 
loved. In 1138 he died while still young, and having 
recently returned with Bernard from Italy. Bernard, dry- 
eyed, read the burial-service over his body ; so says his 
biographer wondering, for the saint was not wont to bury 
even strangers without tears. 3 No other eyes were dry at 
that funeral. Afterwards he preached a sermon ; 4 it began 
with restraint, then became a long cry of grief. 

The saint took the text from Canticles where he had 
left off in his previous sermon — " I am black, but comely, as 
the tents of Kedar." He proceeded to expound its meaning : 
the tents are our bodies, in which we pilgrims dwell and 
carry on our war. Then he spoke of other portions of the 
text — and suddenly deferred the whole subject till his next 
sermon : Grief ordains an end, " and the calamity which I 

1 It was Bernard's third absence in Italy. 

2 Ep. 144, ad suos Clarae-V aliens es. 

3 Vita prima, lib. iii. cap. 7. 4 Sermo xxvi. in Cantica. 

chap, xviii SAINT BERNARD 419 

" For why dissemble, or conceal the fire which is scorching my 
sad breast ? What have I to do with this Song, I who am in 
bitterness ? The power of grief turns my intent, and the anger 
of the Lord has parched my spirit. I did violence to my soul and 
dissembled till now, lest sorrow should seem to conquer faith. 
Others wept, but with dry eyes I followed the hateful funeral, and 
dry-eyed stood at the tomb, until all the solemnities were per- 
formed. In my priestly robes I finished the prayers, and sprinkled 
the earth over the body of my loved one about to become earth. 
Those who looked on, weeping, wondered that I did not. With 
such strength as I could command, I resisted and struggled not 
to be moved at nature's due, at the fiat of the Powerful, at the 
decree of the Just, at the scourge of the Terrible, at the will of the 
Lord. But though tears were pressed back, I could not com- 
mand my sadness ; and grief, suppressed, roots deeper. I confess 
I am beaten. My sorrow will out before the eyes of my children 
who understand and will console. 

' You know, my sons, how just is my grief. You know what a 
comrade has left me in the path wherein I was walking. He was 
my brother in blood and still closer by religion. I was weak in 
body, and he carried me ; faint-hearted, and he comforted me ; 
lazy, and he spurred me ; thoughtless, and he admonished me. 
Whither art thou snatched away, snatched from my hands ! O 
bitter separation, which only death could bring ; for living, thou 
wouldst never leave me. Why did we so love, and now have lost 
each other ! Hard state, but my fortune, not his, is to be pitied. 
For thou, dear brother, if thou hast lost dear ones, hast gained 
those who are dearer. Me only this separation wounds. Sweet 
was our presence to each other, sweet our consorting, sweet our 
colloquy ; I have lost these joys ; thou hast but changed them. 
Now, instead of such a worm as me, thou hast the presence of 
Christ. But what have I in place of thee ? And perhaps though 
thou knewest us in the flesh, now that thou hast entered into the 
power of the Lord, thou art mindful only of His righteousness, 
forgetting us. 

" I seem to hear my brother saying : ' Can a woman forget her 
sucking child ; even so, yet will I not forget thee.' That does not 
help, where no hand is stretched out." 

Bernard speaks of Gerard's unfailing helpfulness to him 
and every one, and of his piety and religious life. He feels 
the cares of his life and station closing around him, and his 
brother gone. Then he justifies his grief, and pours it forth 
unrestrained. Would any one bid him not to weep ? as well 
tell him not to feel when his bowels were torn from him : he 


feels, for his flesh is not brass ; he grieves, and his grief is 
ever before him : 

" I confess my sorrow. Will some one call me carnal ? 
Certainly I am human, since I am a man. Nor do I deny being 
carnal, for I am, and sold under sin, adjudged to death and 
punishment. I am not insensible to punishments ; I shudder at 
death, my own or others'. Mine was Gerard, mine ! He is gone, 
and I feel, and am wounded, grievously ! 

" Pardon me, my sons ; or rather lament your father's state. 
Pity me, and think how grievously I have been requited for my 
sins by the hand of God. Though I feel the punishment, I do not 
impugn the sentence. This is human ; that would be impious. 
Man must needs be affected towards those dear to him, with glad- 
ness at their presence, with sorrow at their absence. I grieve over 
thee, Gerard, my beloved, not because thou art to be pitied, but 
because thou art taken away. May it be that I have not lost thee, 
but sent thee on before ! Be it granted me some time to follow 
whither thou art gone ; for thou hast joined the company of those 
heavenly ones on whom in thy last hours thou didst call exultingly 
to praise the Lord. For thee death had no sting, nor any fear. 
Through his jaws Gerard passed to his Fatherland safe and glad 
and exulting. When I reached his side, and he had finished the 
psalm, looking up to heaven, he said in a clear voice : ' Father, 
into thy hands I commend my spirit.' Then saying over again 
and again the word, ' Father, Father,' he turned his joyful face to 
me, and said : ' What great condescension that God should be 
father to men ! What glory for men to be sons of God and heirs 
of God ! ' So he rejoiced, till my grief was almost turned to a 
song of gladness. 

" But the pang of sorrow calls me back from that lovely vision, 
as care wakens one from light slumber. I grieve, but only over 
myself ; I lament his loss to this household, to the poor, to all our 
Order ; whom did he not comfort with deed and word and ex- 
ample ? Grievously am I afflicted, because I love vehemently. 
And let no one blame my tears; for Jesus wept at Lazarus's 
tomb. His tears bore witness to His nature, not to His lack of 
faith. So these tears of mine ; they show my sorrow, not my 
faithlessness. I grieve, but do not murmur. Lord, I will sing 
of thy mercy and righteousness. Thou gavest Gerard ; thou 
hast taken him. Though we grieve that he is gone, we thank 
thee for the gift. 

" I bear in mind, O Lord, my pact and thy commiseration, 
that thou mightest the more be justified in thy word. For when 
last year we were in Viterbo, and he fell sick, and I was afflicted 
at the thought of losing him in a strange land and not bringing 

chap, xviii SAINT BERNARD 421 

him back to those who loved him, I prayed to thee with groans and 
tears : ' Wait, O Lord, until our return. When he is restored to 
his friends, take him, if thou wilt, and I will not complain.' Thou 
heardest me, God ; he recovered ; we finished the work thou 
hadst laid on us, and returned in gladness bringing our sheaves of 
peace. Then I was near- to forget my pact, but not so thou. I 
shame me of these sobs, which convict me of prevarication. Thou 
hast recalled thy loan, thou hast taken again what was thine. 
Tears set an end to words ; thou, O Lord, wilt set to them limit 
and measure." 1 

We may now turn to Bernard's love of God, and rise with 
him from the fleshly to the spiritual, from the conditioned 
to the absolute. There is no break ; love is always love. 
More especially the love of Christ, the God-man, is the 
mediating term : He presents the Godhead in human form ; 
to love Him is to know a love attaching to both God and 

Guigo, Prior of the "Grande Chartreuse," whose Medita- 
tions have been given, 2 was Bernard's friend, and wrote to 
him upon love. Bernard replies : " While I was reading it, 
I felt sparks in my breast, from which my heart glowed 
within me as from that fire which the Lord sent upon the 
earth ! " He hesitates to suggest anything to Guigo's fervent 
spirit, as he would hesitate to rouse a bride quiet in the 
bridegroom's arms. Yet " what I do not dare, love dares ; 
it boldly knocks at a friend's door, fearing no repulse, and 
quite careless of disturbing your delightful ease with its 
affairs." Bernard is here speaking of love's importunate 
devotion ; his words characterize the soul's importuning of 
God : 

" I should call love undefiled because it keeps nothing of its 
own. Indeed it has nothing of its own, for everything which it has 
is God's. The undefiled law of the Lord is love, which seeks not 
what profits itself but what profits many. It is called the law of 
the Lord, either because He lives by it, or because no one possesses 
it save by His gift. It is not irrational to speak of God as living 
by law, that law being love. Indeed in the blessed highest Trinity 
what preserves that highest ineffable unity, except love ? " 

1 " Finem verborum indicunt lacrymae ; tu illis, Domine, finem modumque 
indixeris." 2 Ante, Chapter XVII. 


So far, Bernard has been using the word charitas. Now, 
in order to indicate love's desire, he begins to use the words 
cupiditas and amor. 1 When these yearning qualities are 
rightly guided by God's grace, what is good will be cherished 
for the sake of what is better, the body will be loved for the 
soul's sake, the soul for God's sake, and God for His own 

" Yet because we are of the flesh (carnales) and are begotten 
through the flesh's concupiscence, our yearning love (cupiditas vel 
amor noster) must begin from the flesh ; yet if rightly directed, 
advancing under the leadership of grace, it will be consummated 
in spirit. For that which is first is not spiritual, but that which is 
natural (animate) ; then that which is spiritual. First man loves 
(diligit) himself for his own sake. For he is flesh, and is able to 
understand nothing beyond himself. When he sees that he cannot 
live (subsistere) by himself alone, he begins, as it were from neces- 
sity, to seek and love God. Thus, in this second stage, he loves 
God, but only for his own sake. Yet as his necessities lead him to 
cultivate and dwell with God in thinking, reading, praying, and 
obeying, God little by little becomes known and becomes sweet. 
Having thus tasted how sweet is the Lord, he passes to the third 
stage, where he loves God for God's sake. Whether any man in 
this life has perfectly attained the fourth stage, where he loves 
himself for God's sake, I do not know. Let those say who have 
knowledge ; for myself, I confess it seems impossible. Doubtless 
it will be so when the good and faithful servant shall have entered 
into the joy of his Lord, and shall be drunk with the flowing rich- 
ness of God's house. Then oblivious to himself, he will pass to 
God and become one spirit with Him." 2 

So one sees the stages through which love of self and 
lust of fellow become love of God. A responsive emotion 
attends each ascending step in the saint's intellectual 
apprehension of love — as one should bear in mind while 
following the larger exposition of the theme in Bernard's 
De diligendo Deo? 

The cause and reason for loving God is God ; the mode 

1 As Augustine before him. Cf. Taylor, The Classical Heritage, etc., pp. 129-131. 

2 Ep. 11, ad Guigonem. Bernard adds that when Paul says that flesh and 
blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God, it is not to be understood that the 
substance of flesh will not be there, but that every carnal necessity will have 
ceased ; the love of flesh will be absorbed in the love of the spirit, and our weak 
human affections transformed into divine energies. 

3 Migne, Pat. Lot. 182, col. 973-1000. 

chap, xvin SAINT BERNARD 423 

is to love without measure : " Causa diligendi Deum, Deus 
est ; modus, sine modo diligere." Should we love God 
because of His desert, or our advantage ? For both reasons. 
On the score of His desert, because He first loved us. What 
stint shall there be to my love of Him who is my life's free 
giver, its bounteous administrator, its kind consoler, its 
solicitous ruler, its redeemer, eternal preserver and glorifier ? 
On the other hand, " God is not loved without reward ; 
but He should be loved without regard to the reward. 
Charitas seeks not its own. It is affection and not a con- 
tract ; it is not bought, nor does it buy. Amor is satisfied 
with itself. It has the reward, which is what is loved. 
True love demands no reward, but merits one. The reward, 
although not sought by the lover, is due him, and will be 
rendered if he perseveres." 

Bernard proceeds to expound the four stages or grades 
(gradus) of love : 

" Love is a natural affection, one of the four. 1 As it exists by 
nature, it should diligently serve the Author of nature first of all. 
But as nature is frail and weak, love is compelled by necessity first 
to serve itself. This is carnal love, whereby, above everything, 
man loves himself for his own sake. It is not set forth by precept, 
but is rooted in nature ; for who hates his own flesh ? As love 
becomes more ready and profuse, it is not content with the channel 
of necessity, but will pour forth and overspread the broad fields 
of pleasure. At once the overflow is bridled by the command, 
' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' This is just and 
needful, lest what is part of nature should have no part in grace. 
A man may concede to himself what he will, so long as he is 
mindful to provide the same for his neighbour. The bridle of 
temperance is imposed on thee, O man, out of the law of life and 
discipline, in order that thou shouldst not follow thy desires, nor 
with the good things of nature serve the enemy of the soul, which 
is lust. If thou wilt turn away from thy pleasures, and be content 
with food and raiment, little by little it will not so burden thee 
to keep thy love from carnal desires, which war against the soul. 
Thy love will be temperate and righteous when what is withdrawn 
from its own pleasures is not denied to its brother's needs. Thus 
carnal love becomes social when extended to one's kind. 

" Yet in order that perfect justice should exist in the love of 
neighbour, God must be regarded (Deum in causa haberi necesse 

1 Love, fear, joy, sorrow. 

4 2 4 THE MEDIAEVAL MIND bookhi 

est). How can one love his neighbour purely who does not love 
in God ? God makes Himself loved, He who makes all things 
good. He who founded nature so made it that it should always 
need to be sustained by Him. In order that no creature might 
be ignorant of this, and arrogate for himself the good deeds of 
the Creator, the Founder wisely decreed that man should be tried 
in tribulations. By this means, when he shall have failed and 
God have aided, God shall be honoured by him whom He has 
delivered. The result is that man, animal and carnal, who knew 
not how to love any one beside himself, begins for his own sake to 
love God ; because he has found out that in God he can accom- 
plish everything profitable, and without Him can do nothing. 

" So now for his own interest, he loves God — love's second 
grade ; but does not yet love God for God's sake. If, however, 
tribulation keeps assailing him, and he continually turns to God 
for aid, and God delivers him, will not the man so oft delivered, 
though he have a breast of iron and a heart of stone, be drawn 
to cherish his deliverer, and love Him not only for His aid but 
for Himself ? Frequent necessities compel man to come to God 
incessantly ; repeatedly he tastes and, by tasting, proves how 
sweet is the Lord. At length God's sweetness, rather than human 
need, draws the man to love Him. Thereafter it will not be hard 
for the man to fulfil the command to love his neighbour. Truly 
loving God, he loves for this reason those who are God's. He loves 
chastely, and is not oppressed through obeying the chaste com- 
mand ; he loves justly, and willingly embraces the just command. 
That is the third grade of love, when God is loved for Himself. 

" Happy is he who attains to the fourth grade, where man loves 
himself only on account of God. Thy righteousness, O God, is as 
the mountain of God ; love is that mountain, that high mountain 
of God. Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord ? Who 
will give me the wings of a dove and I will fly away and be at rest. 
Alas ! for my long-drawn sojourning ! When shall I gain that 
habitation in Zion, and my soul become one spirit with God ? 
Blessed and holy will I call him to whom in this mortal life such 
has been given though but once.X For to be lost to self and not to 
feel thyself, and to be emptied of thyself and almost to be made 
nothing, that pertains to heavenly intercourse, not to human affec- 
tion. And if any one among mortals here gain admission for an 
instant, at once the wicked world is envious, the day's evil dis- 
turbs, the body of death drags down, fleshly necessity solicits, 
corruption's debility does not sustain, and, fiercest of all, brotherly 
love calls back ! Alas ! he is dragged back to himself, and forced 
to cry : ' O Lord, I suffer violence, answer thou for me ' (Isa. 
xxxviii. 14) ; ' Who will deliver me from the body of this death ? ' 
(Rom. vii. 24). 

chap, xvm SAINT BERNARD 425 

" Yet Scripture says that God made all things for His own 
sake ; that will come to pass when the creation is in full accord 
with its Author. Therefore we must sometime pass into that 
state wherein we do not wish to be ourselves or anything else, 
except for His sake and by reason of His will, not ours. Then 
not our need or happiness, but His will, will be fulfilled in us. O 
holy love and chaste ! O sweet affection ! O pure and purged 
intention of the will, in which nothing of its own is mingled ! 
This is it to be made God (deificari). As the drop of water is 
diffused in a jar of wine, taking its taste and colour, and as 
molten iron becomes like to fire and casts off its form, and as the 
air transfused with sunlight is transformed into that same bright- 
ness of light, so that it seems not illumined, but itself to be the 
light, thus in the saints every human affection must in some 
ineffable mode be liquefied of itself and transfused into the will 
of God. How could God be all in all if in man anything of man 
remained ? A certain substance will remain, but in another form, 
another glory, another power." 

Hereupon St. Bernard considers how this fourth grade of 
love will be attained in the resurrection, and " perpetually 
possessed, when God only is loved and we love ourselves 
only for His sake, that He may be the recompense and aim 
{praemium) of those who love themselves, the eternal 
recompense of those who love eternally." 

Christ is the universal Mediator between God and man, 
not only because reconciling them, but as forming the 
intervening term, the concrete instance of the One suited 
to the comprehension of the other. When certain thoughts 
and sentiments commonly applying to man are applied 
to Christ, they become fit to apply to God. Herein 
especially may be perceived the continuing identity of love, 
whether relating to human beings or to God. The soul's 
love of Christ is mediatorial, and symbolic of its love of 
God. All of which Bernard has demonstrated with 
a mighty power of argument and feeling in his famous 
Sermons on Canticles. 1 

The human personality of Christ draws men to love Him, 
till their love is purged of carnality and exalted to a perfect 
love of God : 


" Observe that the heart's love is partly carnal ; it is affected 

1 Migne 183, col. 785-1198, 


through the flesh of Christ and what He said and did while in the 
flesh. Filled with this love, the heart is readily touched by dis- 
course upon His words and acts. It hears of nothing more 
willingly, reads nothing more carefully, recalls nothing more 
frequently, and meditates upon nothing more sweetly. When 
man prays, the sacred image of the God-man is with him, as He 
was born or suckled, as He taught or died, rose from the dead or 
ascended to heaven. This image never fails to nerve man's mind 
with the love of virtue, cast out the vices of the flesh and quell 
its lusts. I deem the principal reason why the invisible God 
wished to be seen in the flesh, and, as man, hold intercourse with 
men, was that He might draw the affections of carnal men, who 
could only love carnally, to a salutary love of His flesh, and then 
on to a spiritual love." 

Conversely, the Saviour's example teaches men how 
they should love Him : 

" He loved sweetly, wisely, and bravely : sweetly, in that He 
put on flesh ; wisely, in that He avoided fault ; bravely, in that 
He bore death. Those, however, with whom He sojourned in 
the flesh, He did not love carnally, but in prudence of spirit. 
Learn then, Christian, from Christ how to love Christ." 

Bernard shows how even the Apostles failed sometimes to 
love Him according to His perfect teaching and example : 

" Good, indeed, is this carnal love," he concludes, " through 
which a carnal life is shut out ; and the world is despised and 
conquered. This love progresses as it becomes rational, and 
perfected as it becomes spiritual." 1 

From his own experiences Bernard could have spoken 
much of the winning power of Jesus, and could have told 
how sweetly it drew him to love his Saviour's steps from 
Bethlehem to Calvary. The fifteenth sermon upon Can- 
ticles is on the healing power of Jesus' name. 

" Dry is all food for the soul unless anointed with that oil. 
Whatever you write is not to my taste unless I read Jesus there. 
Your talk and disputation is nothing unless that name is rung. 
Jesus is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart. 
He is medicine as well. Is any one troubled, let Jesus come into 
the heart and thence leap to the lips, and behold ! at the rising 
of that bright name the clouds scatter and the air is again serene. 
If any one slips in crime, and then desponds amid the snares of 

1 Sermo xx. in Cantica. 

chap, xvin SAINT BERNARD 427 

death, will he not, invoking that name of life, regain the breath of 
life ? In whom can hardness of heart, sloth, rancour, languish- 
ment stand before that name ? In whom at its invocation will 
not the dried fount of tears burst forth more abundantly and 
sweetly ? To